This Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, opens the door to Lent. This season of forty days of preparation for Easter helps Christians to deepen their faith in Christ’s redeeming death and resurrection. At Sacred Heart Villa, we try to help our little ones learn the significance of this holy season in simple, traditional, concrete ways. After lessons of preparation earlier in the week, the children will receive blessed ashes in the school chapel on Ash Wednesday morning. We explain to the children that the cross shape on our foreheads reminds us that Jesus died on the cross to show His love. Our classroom prayer tables will be covered with a purple cloth, the color of the liturgical season of Lent.
In addition, we try to simply explain and demonstrate three traditional Lenten practices. We encourage our families to do the same in their homes.
- Pray more. Some classes will sing an added Lenten song or Lenten reading to their morning prayer routine depending on the age of the children. Perhaps families can consider being faithful to saying “Grace” before meals or pray together before going to bed.
- Fast in many ways. This discipline is hard to explain to the youngest children. When done as a group, like the whole school or your family not eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays of Lent, it will be easier for them to understand what fasting is. The children learn from our example. When the child witnesses the family at a meal without meat or a dessert, an adult can point out that this meatless meal or not having a piece of cake is something they choose to do to show love for Jesus. If Jesus could sacrifice and die for us on the cross, I can make a sacrifice to show my love for Jesus. Fasting can also be from doing without an activity like limiting television or iPad use. Fasting also helps us appreciate the bounty we have and makes us more conscious of the needs of the poor who go hungry.
- Giving alms. Simply put, we give away money or items which we share with those in need. It could be money saved from fasting from sweets or whatever the family decides. It could be toys or games that your child no longer is interested in.
It is important to share the rich traditions of our Christian Catholic faith to our young children. When instructing the children, we are challenged to acknowledge the beliefs we hold true. Let us pass on these rich traditions to our children, so that they will grow deeper in their love for Jesus.