There are many ways to celebrate Lent with children. I have found the simplest activities are the ones that children enjoy the most and we, as parents, are more apt to do since they don’t require a significant amount of resources or time.
Last year, I wrote about three of our favorite activities: pretzel sticks Crown of Thorns, veiling sacred images with purple cloth, and praying the Stations of the Cross. Here are three more activities to consider:
Peanut Butter Donation
Years ago, during Lent, we began donating a jar of peanut butter each week to our Church’s food pantry. Since our family has grown, we now donate one jar of peanut butter per child each week. We also started taking our children food shopping to purchase other items like pasta, sauce, beans and rice, and as we get closer to Easter, candy for children to enjoy on Easter Sunday.
Since our oldest was young, we’ve gone to Adoration with our children. While we do not get to go as often as we would like, we still make it a point to go several times per year. Sometimes, we only get 15 minutes to spend with Our Lord, other times they are all well-behaved (and most likely listening to their Guardian Angels) and we get closer to an hour. The last time we went to Adoration, our oldest was especially quiet and reverent. It wasn’t until we got in the car that we found out it was because our sweet child had prayed an entire Rosary without being told.
Although it can seem daunting to take a child to Adoration, remember the words of Our Lord when he said, “Let the little children alone, and do not stop them from coming to me; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of Heaven belongs.” (Mt 19:14) If you can spend five, 10, 20 minutes in front of the Blessed Sacrament, great! The more you go, the better your children will get at it.
Washing of the Feet
At Mass on Holy Thursday, after the homily, several parishioners are seated towards the front of the Church. Then, the priest, in the tradition of our Lord at the Last Supper, goes to each one, pours water over each parishioner’s feet and then dries them.
Holy Week is so busy with Mass, preparing for Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday and other usual activities and obligations that we never got a chance to do this activity at home. This year, we decided to wash the feet of our children before Holy Week. We sat each of them on a chair in a line from youngest to oldest and my husband washed each of their feet and dried them. There were a lot of giggles and tickles to go around but this intimate task of washing their feet shows the example that Jesus set when he said “you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:1-17)
Cheese and bean rollups: Fill each tortilla with cheese and beans and serve with chopped lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and/or guacamole. The best part of this meal is that you can be a short-order cook. Ask your children if they’d like beans and cheese, just beans, or just cheese. Heat them up on the stovetop or in the oven. (Sometimes I use the microwave if we’re really in a hurry.)
2. Breakfast for dinner: My family loves having breakfast for dinner. I serve scrambled eggs or egg casserole, waffles or pancakes and a fruit salad on the side.
3. Pasta and beans: Also known as pasta e fagioli. This is such a delicious and hearty meal that comes together in less than half an hour (if you use pre-made or jarred sauce.) Serve with warm bread, a salad and some grated cheese. It also makes delicious leftovers for the next day.
4. Lentil soup: Another delicious and hearty Italian recipe. My entire family love lentils and I love that they get a ton of nutrients from not only the lentils but also the carrots, celery, onion and tomatoes that are cooked together. Plus, lentils can be cooked in the crockpot! Just make sure you use enough vegetable stock, as lentils require a lot of liquid.
5. Barbeque black bean nachos: Layer tortilla chips of your choice on a baking sheet, add rinsed and drained canned black beans, add shredded cheese, drizzle barbeque sauce on top. Bake at 325 for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese melts. Serve with salad and sour cream and guacamole.
Christina Frye is a lifelong Rhode Islander, wife, mother and founder of Catholic Mom Rhode Island, www.CatholicMomRI.com.