By Susan Ciancio
Lent is here! We now have an amazing opportunity to spend the next six weeks building our faith, growing closer to God, and shining the light of Christ to others.
Some years it feels like we run out of ideas for Lent. We spend days beforehand wondering what to do or how to spend our time. Traditionally, people give things up for Lent. Sacrifice is great! But we must do more. When we do more—for ourselves and others—we strengthen our faith. And when we strengthen our own faith, we not only build a stronger relationship between us and God, but we build a culture of life here on earth.
So, this year, let’s get excited, and “Lent’s” do better! We have come up with six unique ways to fill the days of Lent, and whether you do one or all of these things, you are sure to find that you have grown as a person and as a Catholic come the day of Christ’s Resurrection.
1. Visit the Lenten Station Churches in Rome (virtually) with Mountain Butorac, The Catholic Traveler
Every day, you can follow along with Mountain as he takes you to each of the traditional Lenten Station Churches. This is a fantastic way to not only see some of the most beautiful churches in Rome, but to increase your knowledge of theology and learn a little history as well. In addition, every Friday during Lent, Mountain will lead a Rosary from a different church in Rome. Grab the family and sit down for a few minutes of religion, architecture, culture, and history.
2. Listen to Fr. Mike Schmitz’ Bible in a Year podcast
Nothing brings us closer to God than listening to His word. This podcast began on January 1, but it doesn’t matter if you didn’t know about it or didn’t start then. Each episode is only about 20 minutes long. Fr. Mike reads from the Bible and then explains what he read. His exuberance and his love for God shine through in both his reading and in his explanations. So turn off the TV, put away phones, and become transformed by the word of God so lovingly read.
3. 40 days of thankfulness
Even during difficult times, we all have so much to be thankful for. Sometimes we forget how much we have. That’s why it’s vital to reflect on our blessings. When we do so, we begin to appreciate them more. Buy a journal, or just grab an extra notebook that you have lying around, and put it somewhere where everyone in the family can access it. Every day of Lent, write several things that you are thankful for, even if they’re small things. Read through it every few days with your family. You will be amazed at how many wonderful things happen to you each and every moment.
4. Pray, fast, give calendar
Join Fr. Dave Dwyer in doing something unique each day of Lent. This online calendar has a digital square for each day that cannot be opened until that day. Under each square is a different “daily jolt and microchallenge.” We don’t know what they are, but we do know that each fun challenge will help increase your faith and devotion to God.
5. Watch a movie with a pro-life theme each weekend
The Culture of Life Studies Program has numerous movie suggestions—and even free discussion guides to help you process the film—on our site. As parents, we know that there are a lot of junky movies out there. But there are also many awesome movies that show the beauty of life and love and that will spur great conversations in your family. So instead of watching The Avengers for the 15th time, try one of our suggestions!
6. Teach your children about the Corporal Works of Mercy
We live in world fraught with poverty, hopelessness, and despair. While we may not be able to change much globally, we can do things on our own to help those in need in our communities. Choose one of the Corporal Works of Mercy to do each week with your family, and then do it! Maybe it’s shopping for baby items for a pregnancy help center. Maybe it’s bagging non-perishable items for the homeless and then handing them out. Maybe it’s visiting a sick neighbor or taking a meal to someone in need. The possibilities are endless. As a family, discuss why you are doing this and how this helps people. Then discuss that, when we do things for others, we are also doing them for God.
And, of course, you can download our Build a Culture of Life This Lent daily reflection booklet to guide you through each day. Our guide uses the wisdom of the saints, Scripture, and the Catechism to help you on your journey to showing all people that they are loved and respected members of the human family.
We hope you have a wonderful and transformative Lent, and we hope you take the time to build a culture of life in these unique ways as we walk the path of Calvary with Christ.
Picture courtesy of ArqTI