It means setting small, reasonable goals for yourself, one day at a time. One tiny step at a time.
--Dr. Leo Marvin (What About Bob?)
Yes. Lent can be a bit overwhelming for someone new to the celebration. Granted, I've been "running with the big dogs," learning about faith, liturgy, and holy living by reading Catholic mama blogs--ladies for whom practicing Lent with their whole family is a lifestyle and longtime tradtion.
For me? Oh! How would I even start? My children don't even know the meaning of the word!
Well... Here are my baby steps. Just two.
1. Remember each morning what the Lent season is all about, and the purpose for participating in it, in faith:
- Mortification of the flesh. Denying fleshly lusts and accepting suffering to help me learn to bear the wounds and suffering of Jesus.
- Seek ways to purify my heart, deepen my understanding, strengthen my spirit, and be filled with the Spirit.
- Focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, praise, and thanksgiving.
2. Family devotion. I do a Bible devotion with my littles each day as our first lesson of the day. I don't think it's any coincidence that we are smack-dab in the middle of studying "The Life of Christ." I just signed up for emails from Ann Voskamp so that I can download her free eBook for family devotions during Lent--which chronicles the life of Christ. It follows the exact same format we used to celebrate our first official family Advent, yet is only 17 devotions. And feeds our preferred art-geared school methods. Not overwhelming. Baby Steps.
But that also means signing off on this post and being even more "giving" and available to the needy that God has placed in my life--namely, my husband and children today.
Okay. Update. I sat with my three boys to do their devotions for school today. I pointed out that it was Ash Wednesday, and the first day of Lent. I explained what it was all about--all new information. I explained "almsgiving," prayer, charity, and fasting. I explained "giving something up" to show God He is more important to us. I gave them some examples. I explained how some people give up sweets, or soda, or the iPod or video games... by this time their eyeballs were bugging out. I told them that each day for the next 40 days we were going to honor the Life of Christ, and talk about something we could do to grow in our faith.
Without missing a beat, my 6yo says, "I'll give up school!" Then my 4yo says, "I'll give up naps!"
I suggested that today, they each choose a toy to give away, to practice being more "giving." (Almsgiving). Then I suggested that we pray an extra prayer at the end of our lesson. Then I hinted that tomorrow maybe we'll think about giving up the iPod turn for the day, or maybe eating their cereal without sugar, or their PBJ without the J. I told them we'll talk about it each day and decide on something to help us grow in faith.
But... for the record, they were willing to give up school for the whole 40 days--without any hesitation at all!