Here are a few of my favorite Lenten things for adults, kids, and the whole family.
I feel like it goes without saying, but remember that Lent is not really about anything you “do” or read, buy or try. The aim during Lent is increased spiritual fervor, a re-focusing on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, which should always be a strong part of the Christian walk, but they are highlighted in our lives in a special way during Lent. This holy season should give us a chance to distance ourselves a little more from earthly things so we can attach ourselves more deeply to heavenly ones, ultimately seeking a more intimate relationship with Jesus, who suffered and died for us.
These resources and recommendations are meant to serve as simple suggestions, aids to spiritual growth. But make sure you spend time in reflection before Lent starts this year, looking inward at the current disposition of your heart and the ways in which you want to grow. Maybe some of these things will help you work toward that goal!
(Though the list is not in any particular order, the kids recommendations do fall in the first half of the list, followed by the recommendations for adults. Whole family ideas/resources are scattered throughout.)
- The Holy Heroes Stations of the Cross CD: This one gets two-thumbs up from the kids. We listen to it almost daily.
- Sacrifice/good deed beads: I love the practice of using “good deed” beads to help us form a daily habit of giving and sacrificing. The idea actually comes from St. Therese of Lisieux, and Lent is the perfect time to start it. I got mine here, and I got some for the little kids here.
- Home altar: My kids have had a little altar table in their room for years now, and during Lent we usually cover it with a purple cloth before placing the other small devotional items on top. If you don’t have an altar table or a daily prayer habit with the kids, do it this Lent.
- Printable Lenten calendar: My kids color the black and white version of this Lenten calendar day by day every year. Super easy activity that helps track the time from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.
- The Works of Mercy Tree: I love the habit of discussing and practicing the works of mercy during Lent (individually and as a family). We will probably make something similar to this Works of Mercy Tree this year, with our own twist and modifications for this somewhat un-crafty mom and to accommodate children under age 5.
- Giving jar/rice bowl: Having some sort of visual, physical way to collect monetary donations as a family throughout the Lenten season is especially helpful for everyone in the family to be reminded of the need for increased almsgiving. Be creative in how you want to contribute to the jar/bowl.
- Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure: A great resource for the elementary-aged group, with activities, audio & video, and games.
- Brother Francis Lent Collection: We have the Stations of the Cross DVD from this pack, but based on my experience with Herald Entertainment thus far, I can see us grabbing the rest of the items in the pack real soon.
- Children’s picture books for Lent: Some of our family favorites include The Tale of Three Trees, The Donkey that No One Could Ride, and The Colt and the King.
- A Parent Who Prays: A Journal to Guide You in Praying for Your Children: Also available in grandparent, godparent, and sponsor versions, this is a great way to hone in on the Lenten pillar of prayer by focusing specifically on the little loved ones in your life, who benefit incredibly from our prayers for their growth in virtue and other important life skills and habits.
- Holy Week prayer journal: I’m loving this Walking Holy Week with Jesus prayer journal. It has brief, beautiful reflections for each day, accompanied by a prayer and journal prompt. It’s a great way to make sure Holy Week doesn’t pass you by without some devoted time to reflecting on Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection.
My Favorite Thing to Do for Lent: I’ve done this every single year for several years now, and since I started sharing the idea online a few years ago, literally tens of thousands of people have considered or done this awesome prayer challenge, too. It’s my favorite thing to do for Lent.
- Email Lenten reflections: For many, having a daily email in your inbox is usually a surefire way to sneak in some Lenten reflecting during the holy season. Bishop Robert Barron and Dynamic Catholic are two popular Lenten email services.
- Quick online study about prayer: I loved this 6-episode (30 minutes per episode) course on prayer, specifically about Lectio Divina, from the Augustine Institute. It inspired me to get more serious about daily Lectio this Lent. If your parish has a FORMED subscription, you can access the course for free with your parish login info.
- Sunday Mass journal: Every Sacred Sunday is one of my new favorite year-round resources, but Lent is a perfect time to start a habit of reading and reflecting more seriously on the Sunday Mass readings, and this beautiful journal will help you do just that.
- Short Lessons on Faith & Trust: Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s Characters of the Passion is one of my favorite re-reads each Lent. I love the brevity and power of each chapter that focuses on different people who played a role in the passion of Christ.
- Ignatian book on the Stations of the Cross: Station to Station: An Ignatian Journey through the Stations of the Cross is a beautiful way for adults to dive deeper into the stations, using the “scriptural Way of the Cross to focus our minds and hearts on Jesus’ anguish and death.”
- Trash bags: Donate items you do not need or use regularly to a worthy organization or to someone who does need them. The trash bags are just to help you collect the “stuff,” but anything will do!
- The Giving Plate: A plate similar to this one showed up on my doorstep the other day when a friend made my family dinner and muffins after a particularly rough weekend. Working together as a family to make a meal for another (at a soup kitchen, within your parish, or even for a family in your own neighborhood) is definitely a great Lenten practice, with or without a fancy plate.
- Jesus: A deeper relationship with Jesus is definitely the greatest Lenten “resource” for the whole family. Spend a little extra time with Him this holy season, whether it’s daily Mass an extra time each week or a visit to the adoration chapel. Take advantage of your parish’s Lenten offerings, too, like their Stations of the Cross evenings or special prayer events.
If you shop at any of the stores mentioned in this post, tell them I sent you! 🙂