Preparing for Lent

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Lent is almost upon us! It’s very early this year beginning a week from today, Ash Wednesday. This season of the liturgical year is represented by the color purple: the color of the bruised heart. This is the uncomfortable time preceding Easter when we remove distractions, focus on spiritual formation, and take an honest look at ourselves in order that we might prepare our hearts.

Here’s a few Lenten traditions we’re planning to incorporate into our lives during this season:

  • Cover our crucifixes with purple fabric. I let our preschooler find all the crucifixes and crosses in the house and help me do this on Ash Wednesday.

  • Display our “Crown of Thorns” grapevine wreath on our table.
  • Attend daily Mass more often. Hopefully we can do the 7am as a family because wrangling both kids in Mass while Daniel is at work is a Herculean effort for this pregnant gal.
  • Commit to a daily Rosary. I’ve improved my previously abysmal record of praying a daily Rosary since I made it one of my goals for 2013, but making a firm commitment would be a good Lenten discipline. Also, I’d like to begin praying a decade each evening as a family devotion.
  • Learn a new prayer. We learned the St. Andrew prayer during Advent (in fact, I think Benjamin knew it better than Daniel or I by Christmas Day) and I’ve been trying to decide which one we should tackle next as a family. The Memorare?
  • Read selections from Bread and Wine: Readings for Easter and Lent. Like Watch for the Light (the Advent version), I’m expecting this one to have some amazing selections and so ho hum ones that I can skip over. In past years, I’ve really enjoyed reading Signs of Life by Scott Hahn since it has 40 chapters (handy for the 40 days of Lent, right?) and it’s amazing. You can also peruse my Big Ol’ Catholic Reading List for ideas for other devotional texts.
  • Commit to a Friday evening Mass to attend with Daniel as part of our weekly “date night.”
  • Look for ways to serve. Making meals for elderly parishioners and helping the kids make encouraging cards for friends and family came to mind. How does your family tackle this element of the lenten season?
  • Go to Confession. This deserves it’s own post, coming soon.
  • Go to adoration with the kids. Daniel and I each have a holy hour but we haven’t done a good job of introducing the kids to adoration and there’s really no excuse since our parish has a chapel of perpetual adoration!
  • Stations of the Cross
  • Abstaining from meat on Fridays 

Usually I choose a certain favorite food to give up as part of my lenten discipline, but since I have been so unbelievably ill this pregnancy, I don’t think it’s a great idea to commit to giving up food items (except for meat on Fridays). I am interested in doing some unplugging from technology but I want to keep maintaining this space, so I’m not sure what that would look like. Any ideas?

Other Lenten Resources: (I’ll be spending some time re-reading these posts in the next week)

Karen Edmisten

In the Heart of My Home: Elizabeth Foss 

Lent is long, folks. Don’t forget to make time for a little of this on Mardi Gras:

How we’re going to manage a gluten-free King Cake for our allergic little Benjamin is a bit beyond me…any suggestions?

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  1. says

    This is a great resource! We are Eastern Orthodox, so we do not have daily mass, but I love the idea of attending services more often. Next year at this time, we will be homeschooling our children (we are letting them finish out the year) and I am really looking forward to making the most of Lent with them!

  2. says

    If you use Chrome, you can install StayFocused and tell it what to either block or limit. (For example, I get one hour a day on tumblr and facebook.) I’m not sure I’ll give up food either, since I am so hungry and shaky during breastfeeding, but we’ll probably do television again, and for service, I’m thinking of donating breastmilk. Our local bank requires 150 ounces, so I’m thinking if I do one pumping a day for let, I’ll have it.

    • Haley says

      Garrett is helping us update our laptop to the newest operating system (we are SO behind) and then I really should do this. Safari is the only thing that works right now and it crashes constantly. I love your idea to offer breastmilk.

  3. Emily says

    Hi Haley,
    Just wanted to say that I remember reading during my previous pregnancy that you would also be exempt from abstaining from meat as a pregnant (or, if needed, as a breastfeeding) woman. I desperately needed meat protein (in other words, non-meat protein was not nearly powerful enough for the likes of me!) and would be desperately ill without it! You are probably aware of it already, but thought I’d mention it 🙂 Love your blog!

    Emily in Wisconsin

    • Haley says

      Thanks, Emily! We are usually pretty consistent about never eating meat on Fridays but completely threw that out the window during this pregnancy because I was the same way: SO ill without meat protein. I’m feeling much better so I think we can successfully abstain on Fridays and substitute with fish protein once a week but it is nice knowing that the Church wants my first priority to be caring for this teensy baby!

  4. says

    Like Michelle, I am Eastern Orthodox and our Lent is really late this year… it is so good to do things to prepare for it! My husband and I are already talking about what we will do…

    as for the cakes, I did a quick google search and found these…
    These may be good places to start:

    May God give your strength for this pregnancy!!!

  5. says

    I like the idea of making meals for elderly parishioners. I have found that my practicing the Works of Mercy has really had to change since becoming a mother. There are times when I feel like a slacker for not serving the poor in a more palpable way, but I also have to recognize the limitations of this season of my life.

  6. says

    For the last few years during Lent, instead of giving up something, I try to implement a good habit. Like the first year we were married, I did a 40 day devotional called “The Respect Dare”. When I was pregnant, I began reading the Bible from start to finish (it took a year to complete but I started the discipline during lent). I always make sure these things take precedence over my other activities (i.e. facebook, blog, etc) then I am still giving up the time to do something else that is better for my growth anyways. Hope that makes sense…
    Also you should be able to find a gluten free kings cake recipe, with as many people who are gluten free these days. And if not, use a cinnamon roll recipe and just bake it as a cake 🙂

  7. Catzonder says

    I stumbled on your blog via an anti-Twilight for your daughter pin… I have never read the Twilight books but I wanted to see what made your list of alternatives and if it included C.S. Lewis or the Little House or Anne books which I grew up on. Then I noticed you are Catholic too! Love love love your blog(s) on (not using) birth control. Your thoughts are very well written! I also really dislike taking any medication or eating food laden with chemicals, etc.
    And I love the Lenten suggestions. I’m going to do a grapevine “crown” at our house too! I never would have thought of that myself.

    • Haley says

      Thanks! I saw the grapevine wreath idea somewhere on the internet last year and scooped one up. I like that it kind of mirrors the Advent wreath!

  8. says

    Thank you for posting your Lenten traditions. That is quite a list and makes me want to step up a bit more to prepare my heart for Lent. I like that you cover your crucifixes with purple fabric. It’s always done in church, just not sure why I never thought of it at home?!? I look forward to reciting the Rosary on a more regular basis and reading the Not by Bread Alone series for a daily devotional. Thanks for keeping me inspired 🙂

    • Haley says

      Benjamin has been saying, “I don’t want the crucifixes covered up!” So we’ll see if we can still keep that tradition without any trauma, haha 🙂

  9. says

    What to do during Lent has been a huge prayer of mine!?! As I have gotten older and understood more of the meaning behind this time of the year, I have grown to love, respect and really appreciate this time! A couple weeks ago, our priest talked about how being Pro-Life extends so much further than being against abortion. Pro Life means respecting ALL life and it really resonated with me. As a mother, we truly forget about ourselves, not on purpose, but we just get lost. So this Lent, I am focusing on me. Sounds selfish, but it is more about being respectful for what God has given to me. I going to take care of myself physically (exercise and diet) and spiritually. I have decided to take an hour of me time everyday (morning) to read the daily reading and reflect, journal, listen to music, pray. I AM PUMPED! But it is quite a sacrifice and will be tough, which is quite the point!

    • Haley says

      Great points, Rebecca. I have been trying to implement quiet morning time for myself before the kids wake up (or rather, before they’re allowed out of their beds!) and it has really helped my mothering. When I try to start the day without coffee and a Rosary well…’s not pretty. And when I’m tired or grumpy from having too much sugar and not enough protein and good stuff, I have the hardest time keeping my temper and become the most unpleasant mother ever. We have to take care of ourselves so we can love our families!

  10. says

    This is a great resource heading into Lent – thanks for thinking this all through! I found you through Bonnie’s awards, and had fun reading through your recommended books.

  11. says

    I am so impressed that you’re going to take your little folks to Adoration. We are having such a struggle at this point just getting through one Mass each week on Sundays, and with so many Lenten services taking place in the evenings (just an hour or so before bedtime), I am afraid to try to take them to church more. I keep telling myself there will be time for that later, when they are a bit older…some seasons of life are about surviving, you know?

    • Haley says

      Those evening services are SO hard for little ones. Don’t be too impressed. We’ll probably start off staying for 5 minutes…if we make it that long! 🙂

  12. says

    Here is a recipe for a gluten free King’s Cake: I’m planning to make one (though not GF) this evening when I get home.

    I’m excited about reading the rest of your Lent posts. We’ve never really observed Lent very seriously but this year I’m planning to give up putting sugar/honey or any other sweetener in my tea. I drink a lot of tea throughout the day so I figured having that bitter flavour would be a good regular reminder of the nature of the season. I also have the Bread and Wine book you mentioned and I am going to start trying to get up a bit earlier on days that I work so that I can have some quiet time to start my day off. I’m hoping that can be a continuing habit even after Lent is over.

  13. Tammy says

    Hi Haley. I have stumbled across your wonderful blog look for ideas for lent. I’m an Eastern Orthodox Christian so Passion week is this week and Easter this weekend. I’ve just come home from church and it would have to have been the most beautiful service. My little church was full – it was so wonderful. The service has inspired me to embrace lent more fully than I have in these last 5 weeks. Thankyou for your blog and for allowing us all to share our spiritual journeys. Thankyou for the lovely ideas you and others have shared on preparing our homes for the holiest time of the year. May God bless you, your family and everyone who reads and writes a little on this blog and who shares their spiritual life with others so that we can continue to grow with love and strength in our hearts and to live the rich lives that God intends us to have.


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