It feels like the New Year has only just begun and, yet, we find ourselves beginning Lent 2021 – and – given the current lockdown, and all the restrictions is has brought to our day to day lives, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you may have already been experiencing a sort of enforced “Lenten” period.
However, as we mark Ash Wednesday in our homes (there is a short Ash Wednesday service which you can do at home this year), let us use the rhythm of this beautiful season in the Church’s year to shift our focus: that is – rather than getting stuck in the hardship of the here and now – let us take the opportunity to lift our hearts and minds above the raging waters and the immediate struggles and, instead, “zoom in” for a closer encounter with God, who – in the person of Jesus – came to love us, to heal us, and – indeed – seeks to join with us in our places of pain.
The three focal points during this time of year – those of prayer, fasting and giving – which aim to aid us in this re-orientation process, can still be done within the messy-ness of our current circumstances. I hope that the resources for children and families will be useful to you, as you seek to rise above the storms of life. May they help you to cement family ties and create little family moments which can help put everything else into perspective.
My prayer is that Lent would be a positive time for you, helping you to see that Jesus is right here with you in your boat! He will calm the storms that surrounds you, when you choose to allow Him to take the lead and keep your eyes fixed on Him!
If you do need any further ideas and some guidance, please feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lent Family Resources
As we begin Lent…
- An Ash Wednesday Prayer for families, from CathFamily
- An encouragement for parents – helping Children with Lent – from Loyola Press
- A journey through Lent – Use this Lenten Calendar Printable sheet and this Lenten mini figure, that children can colour as they go through each day of Lent, journeying towards our Lord’s resurrection at Easter.
- Another lovely craft to create as lent begins is this Kids Lent Walk
- The Lent Cube, from Pflaum Publishing, this is a great way to make each day of Lent special!
- CAFOD’s Lent 21 Calendar for young people is an interactive PowerPoint, designed to aid some time of reflection on CAFOD’s theme this year: “Walk for Water”. Just click on any date on the opening slide, to take a journey which will help you appreciate the gift of water like never before!
- Burying our alleluias: Fr Peter introduced my children to the concept of physically burying our Alleluias for the duration of Lent. Here is an article explaining why we might choose to do it, from Aleteia. Click on this template for Alleluias, which has a variety for your children to decorate and cut out before they bury them. (suggestion: wrap the Alleluias in a small plastic bag before burying). When my children uncover theirs on Easter Sunday, at the end of these 40 days, they usually find the Alleluia with a treat attached – hint to parents!!
- Kids craft ideas for Lent – Lacy, from the hugely helpful Catholic Icing website, offers a wide range of activities for children and families
- Children’s Stations of the Cross – These reflections are short and simple and a good opportunity of building a tradition, during this season, of entering into Christ’s Passion together. Maybe light a candle for each station, or pass a cross around, and choose a response to each reflection which you could say together
- Alternatively, this lovely book – A Children’s Way of the Cross – is a wonderful resource to use time and time again (this does need to be purchased)
- Lenten prayer garden – a delightful Lenten idea for the green-fingered! (this also need to be purchased)
- Children’s meatless meal ideas – If the idea of fasting (beyond giving up something) during Lent is something you’d like to develop, here are some great ideas of changing up family mealtimes on Fridays or special holy days set aside for fasting and abstinence
- The wonderful team from the Mark 10 Mission – a children’s liturgy for those aged 8-14 years – will be continuing to offer uplifting and thought provoking reflections on the weekly Gospel, as well as songs, throughout Lent
- The Examen prayer for children (KS1 and 2) is a lovely opportunity to develop a habit of reflective prayer as a family. This kid-friendly Examen guidance sheet to accompany the prayer.
- Scriptural way of the cross for teens – an opportunity for your teens to delve deeper into the Lord’s passion. This resource can be prayed alone or even as part of an online small group, with a reading for each station, along with a short prayer and response
Creating a Lenten prayer corner
Consider setting up a small space in your home that might provide a suitable focal point during this season. The word “Lent” is a shortened form of the Old English word Lencten, meaning “Spring Season”. You may like to decorate your prayer corner with signs of spring – buds, leaves, blossom, flowers etc…You may like to make a cardboard cross, as a reminder of the cross we have marked on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, or include a sheet where you can write your Lenten prayer intentions. You may wish to add photos of your family and deposit on a table, or stick up, any artwork created during Lent…get the whole family involved and it will become a space that provides a unique focus in place of the usual tech or distractions!
You could gather there to think of special people you miss, to reflect on how your Lenten efforts are going, or to pray Lenten prayers, like the Stations of the Cross.
Easter Family Resources
- Holy Week Explained – an article from Cathfamily, provides great insights into this most holy of weeks and is packed full of fab ideas of things to do as a family to bring this week to life!
- Holy Week at Home is a resource created to respond to lockdown at Easter in 2020’s lockdown
- How to make a palm cross with palm leaves
- Make a palm cross out of paper
- A summary of the Palm Sunday story to watch
Here are some more lovely family resources from CathFamily
Create a Last Supper table mat or make unleavened bread and reenact the last supper at home. As well as making flatbread, you could also remember the washing of the feet. Why not invite mum or dad to wash the feet of all the children or have each member of the family wash the feet of another member. This simple act can be a lot of fun, as well as reminding us of this powerful act of service, reminding us of our duty as Christian to humble ourselves and serve others
- Explanation of Good Friday – click here
- Stations of the Cross for kids handout – this is a simple colouring and reflection sheet aimed at younger children
- CathFamily have also written a lovely Stations of the Cross family prayer time, to pray together on Good Friday. My children enjoyed creating – with colouring pages – their own stations of the cross around our house and then lighting a candle at each station. Make this prayer your own!
Holy Saturday/Easter Sunday
- This tomb and resurrection cut-out scene is perfect for young children
Holy Week Voices of the Holy Land
A collection of 15 poems (by Fr Richard Nesbitt) and reflections, based on different characters who interacted with Jesus during his Passion, are a basis for a wonderful opportunity – either for individual meditation or small group faith-sharing – to immerse yourself in the story of Jesus, as you walk with Him towards Easter. This resource can be purchased as a physical or digital copy.
Pray as You Go Lenten Retreat – “Growing Back Better”
An audio Lenten Retreat for each Monday of Lent. The series of reflections is from a Jesuit resource called “Pray As You Go” and are written by Margaret Silf.
Best Lent Ever from Dynamic Catholic
Best Lent Ever are daily reflections from Matthew Kelly and his team for every day of Lent
Lenten musical reflections from The Vigil Project
Saturday Night Lenten “Watchparty”: The Chosen
This engaging series is an original take on the story of Jesus, as seen through the eyes of those around him. The first season (8 episodes) is the first of it’s kind, being an entirely crowd-funded production. The Chosen aims to also be the first multi-season TV show about the life of Christ (as opposed to a one-off movie) and – because of the huge success globally of the first season – season 2 is already in production. All episodes have been made available, free to view, online. We will be posting, on this website, one episode each Saturday of Lent and will finish with the final episodes at the beginning Holy Week
See the trailer (unless you want to keep it as a surprise!)
Bishop Robert Barron
The wonderful Bishop Robert Barron is also offering Lenten Reflections during this season. You can watch a breaking open of the theme – Entering the Desert of Lent. The conversation really starts to pick up at about 2min15secs or you can read the reflections.
Daily Lenten Reflections with Michael McAdam
This is a series of ecumenical reflections for each day of Lent – shared each morning by zoom for 10 minutes – to set you up for the day!
we thank you for the wonder of media to help us dive deeper into this solemn season. Be with us as we draw closer to you and – in doing so – draw us closer to one another. We thank you for the gift of your very life, given for us. May we discover more of your blessings each day, as we make this journey to the cross and towards the joy of your resurrection