Today, February 22, we begin the season of Lent. The Church gives us this Liturgical Season as a period of preparation for the death and resurrection of Christ, as well as an opportunity to remember our own mortality. Living Lent as parents can be challenging. We want to experience an internal conversion ourselves, while also helping our children live this season well. To help, we've put together a series of articles to help you live your best Lent yet, so that by Easter morning you are more fully identified with Christ.
Living Lent as Parents: Prayer
The Bible gives us many scenes of the Holy Family praying together. The second chapter of the Gospel of Luke is devoted to the prayerful way Our Lady and St. Joseph raised Jesus. It recounts moments from Christ’s presentation in the Temple and his annual family pilgrimages: “Each year, his parents went up to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to the festival custom.”
The chapter ends with words you might be delighted to hear about your own children: “And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”
These two short lines from St. Luke teach us how powerful holy seasons are for raising our children well and for bringing prayer to the center of family life. This Lent, what are some ways that your family can harness the power of prayer as Christ’s parents did?
Following the Holy Family’s example can start by simply explaining prayer to your family. For little ones, that means helping them to recite and understand the Our Father and the Hail Mary. For older children, it might be a good time to explain the difference between verbal and mental prayer or to describe the four kinds of prayer: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and petition. You and your spouse can engage in education through spiritual reading, which will enrich and inform your own prayer.
Just as Mary, Joseph, and Jesus went to Jerusalem together for Passover, your family can make going to Mass together a priority. Mass, the highest form of prayer, is the fulfillment of the Jewish feast of Passover. If imitating the Holy Family by attending Mass together is a difficult first step, your family can still unite in prayer by praying a rosary together, even once a week!
Bringing the family together in prayer isn’t always easy. Sometimes, leading by example is the only way to make Lent about prayer.
“If I were to give advice to parents, I would tell them, above all, let your children see that you are trying to live in accordance with your faith.” – St. Josemaria Escriva.
This Lent, share your personal resolutions with your family, even if they aren’t making any resolutions. Take quiet time in your personal prayer to pray for each person. Your Lenten prayer can win the grace to bring your family closer to Christ.
Whatever your Lenten resolutions might be, know that every effort will help your family and you grow “in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”