"I'm just too busy this year to put a lot of effort into Lent."
"But, I really feel Lent is important and want my family to get something out of it."
"Oh, well, there's always next year."
Can you relate?
With my oldest child almost 30 I've had this conversation many, many times. I've come to learn that next year will not be any different than this year. There will always be something that needs repaired, someone who's in a sport or play, someone who is sick, or some other pressing tasks that need my attention.
Now is the time that God is giving us. Now is when he has given us Lent.
I've learned to give up grandiose plans, and settle for a few very simple, but effective ways to help my family observe Lent. These even may seem like "too much," for some of you, but trust me--if I can manage to pull some of this stuff together, so can you!
The other conversation to have is “What can we do as a family for Lent this year?” Let your family dominate this conversation and come with something that speaks to your family this year. Do you have too much screen time? Do you need more involvement with your parish? Do you need more family time? Do you just need a constant reminder of Jesus? For all of these questions, you could probably come up with a Lenten penance or activity that could meet that need. For example, if you need more family time, perhaps you could initiate Sunday family time where every Sunday afternoon, you have to do something together. Just don’t let your Lenten resolution be too involved or complicated.
What’s so ingenious about this activity is that it stems from the real needs and concerns of your whole family. Plus by planning it together, there will be that accountability.
So this is easy. So far so good.
Lent is a mindset. It’s a time of penance and renewal. This take place in your heart and mind. Keeping things simple and having reminders of Lent help create this. And when you find yourself in a “Lenten” mindset, you may find yourself saying: “I’ve got a free evening, I’m going to run to the adoration chapel for 30 minutes.” or “I’ve always wanted to read that book on prayer, I think I’ll start that tonight instead of watching Hulu.” This transformation starts from simple prayers and quieting the activities that the time of Lent can remind us to do.