By Lauren Bierer
We each talk about what we are choosing to add or subtract from our day to draw our focus on the Lenten season and essentially our faith.
That could look like screen-free time after dinner to create opportunities for silence or conversation. It could be acknowledging our tendencies to choose words of bitterness or sarcasm and replacing that with words of kindness. It could be as simple as saying a prayer of thanks before dinner.
Lent invites us to take a step back and reflect on our life. Many people ask ‘what should I do for Lent?’ or ‘what should I give up for Lent?’
The first thing we should do is to desire to have a deeper relationship with the Holy Spirit and then in that, discover the Lord in the presence of the journey. We ought not jump to Easter. Just stay where we are. Stop. Be a little more quiet.
Use this time to reflect on our interior life: our prayer life, our silence and stillness, breaking away from the busy-ness. The danger is that we only do these things when we have time to do them and as a family with young children, that is a rare luxury. Instead, we have to make it a priority.
Our weekends may be busy with sports and errands and family get-togethers but this Lent, find out the Mass times offered in the local area and choose to attend a Saturday evening or Sunday morning Mass.
Carve out that one hour as a time to be a family, focusing on stillness and presence with the Holy Spirit. Even with little ones at our feet asking for snacks or colouring a picture at the end of the pew, we are there: present.
That’s what the season of Lent invites us to do: to take a look at our life and our faith and to be able to allow the Lord to be present in us and us to be present in Him.
In a culture where we almost pride ourselves on busy-ness, our greatest asset is time. Let us block out some time every day either individually or as a family to spend time reflecting on our day.
There is a form of Ignatian prayer known as the Examen, which reflects on where one has felt God’s presence. This prayer of awareness allows us the time to pause and recognise God even in the midst of difficult life situations.
A simple way to do this with children is to ask: What made you happy over the past day? What made you sad over the past day? What do you look forward to tomorrow? And then remind them to thank God for what made them happy, ask for God’s help when they are sad, and pray for God’s presence in the coming day.
This prayer time can be woven into the family’s daily meal time or bedtime or even on your commute to school each day. Let us ask ourselves: When I wake up on Easter Sunday, how will I be different? What am I preparing for? If we want to feel a newness in our faith, offer our time.
Time with our loved ones, time in silence and time in service. What a beautiful way to journey through Lent as a family.