Family Tip: Thoughts for Lent
Feb 27, 2017 / Written by: America Needs Fatima
“The important thing is to teach the child who he is, who God is, and how God wants to mingle His life with his by coming to dwell in him.” — Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.
What is Lent:
Lent is the 40-day period of preparation for the Death and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Here Holy Mother Church gives each of us time to follow in the footsteps of Our Divine Savior in a special way. At other times, we are called to imitate joy, expectation, diligence and perseverance. In Lent, it is self-discipline, self-control, prayer, penance, fasting and almsgiving that help us to curb our innate selfish tendencies and raise our hearts, our minds and our souls to God.
What better gift can we give to children?
Let us a take a moment this Lent to consider a few things that we can do to help “the little ones come unto” Him.
- Lent helps the acquisition of good habits and the practice of virtue.
- Prayer raises the heart and mind of a child to God.
- Prayer obtains the graces necessary for a virtuous life leading to sanctification and salvation.
- Penance will curb the effects of Original Sin such as selfishness, intemperance and pride.
- Fasting, in particular, helps a child to gain mastery over their tendencies, desires and inclinations.
- Self-Control which is one of the fundamental elements of virtue, it is obtained through penance and fasting.
- Almsgiving teaches us to help those less fortunate than we are. It teaches us to be grateful for what we have received. It helps children to understand the difference between needs and wants.
- Almsgiving also curbs selfishness by inviting the child to think of others and the needs of others.
Tips to help children with the 3 great Lenten practices:
Prayer is when we talk to God. Help a child do this by setting up the resolution to pray with him/her every day. It can be as simple as a Hail Mary, one decade of the Holy Rosary, or a whole Rosary depending on the child’s age and attention capacity.
Spend time with the child in front of Our Divine Savior truly present in the Blessed Sacrament on the altar. On your way to the shopping center or to a play-date for your child, take 5 minutes to greet or bow to Our Lord. This might not seem like much, but it instills in the child the importance of God as the center of life.
Penance and Fasting:
To instill the practice of penance, simple things will do. Giving up something the child really likes and enjoys like a specific toy, is a good practice in learning penance for a child. It is important that the adult guide the child in this. Perhaps it is best for the child to start giving something one-day-at-a-time and renewing the resolution and the reasons for it each day. This helps the child learn and remember the importance of penance and the reasons it is necessary.
Fasting can take the form of giving up the last bite of a delicious dessert or the entire dessert. It can also be giving up a TV show or a certain game. Fasting can also be doing something we don’t want to do. For example, I really want to just relax and do nothing, but I go and spend time with someone who is alone. In this case, I fast from my own desires and wants. The key to these practices is doing them together with the child so that you lead by word and example.
Almsgiving can be done through the Church or in person. Help your child to drop an alms for the poor in the poorbox at your local Church. You can also provide the opportunity to help someone who is in need. For example, if you know someone who is elderly and poor, take your child with you to go and prepare them a meal and spend time with them. The alms being given is your effort and your time. Thus, it helps the child learn that alms can be given in many ways, not just financially.
It is commonly said that it takes 23 – 31 days to form a good habit. Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, gives us a wonderful opportunity in Lent to do just that, with a few days for consolidation.
It is an excellent time to help that child that you love so much to grow in virtue and in grace. It is the time in which you can help that little one form habits that help them become true disciples of Jesus Christ and true devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In essence, it gives them the tools and the means to walk in the best way possible the path toward our Heavenly Home!
One last thought:
We all understand that a young person needs to go study for whatever it is that they wish to do or be in life. A doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a priest, a business consultant and so on.
In the same way, religion, Christian piety, good habits and virtue also need teaching and the BEST University to learn in is the home; and the best teachers are mom and dad.
For this did the Creator entrusted his little ones to you.
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