Oh yes, we should all be giving up something for Lent. It would be great if we pledged to keep our noses out of our iPhones for six weeks, but let's face it. That would last 10 minutes and we'd all be walking around looking like zombies. The fast and abstinence regulations are not so difficult to keep as they were for farmers and hard laborers years ago. And New Yorkers have access to some of the best seafood in the world. Not much sacrifice there
Here are a few thoughts about observing Lent both with a minus and a plus. Make it sacrificial but also instructive, not only in words but also in actions
If your child is among the nearly 84,000 in our parish religious education programs from pre-K through 8th grade, the chances are pretty good that you will see a mite box coming home. Yes, the Missionary Childhood Association still makes them available and many of our programs subscribe to them. Why not make and set your own mite box next your child's? You can make it a little bigger and when you come home at night, dump your change into it. Add the price of a bottle of wine or an excursion to the movies. Talk to your child about the work of the Association. Then, you can send your contribution along with your child's to the religious education program to be mailed to the Missionary Childhood Association. It's so easy. You've sacrificed and you have done something positive; you have been a catechist to your child by example.
Here's another idea. Do your own "Fast-Feast" service at home. This is easy. One night of the week, keep your evening meal very simple. Then use the occasion to talk with your child about other children in the world for whom your simple meal would be a feast. Maybe you could a little research online to prepare. The Catholic Near East Welfare Association, Catholic Relief Services and, of course, the Pontifical Missionary Societies have much information about people in need around the world
Ask your parish coordinator or director of religious education to recommend an online site that will help you explain the Sunday readings for Lent to your child. Yes, the religious education program might provide that but it's so much more meaningful when it comes from a parent
Of course, the best thing of all would be if you brought your child to daily Mass during Lent, so that your little one will develop the habit
Let's not allow Lent just to be about "what I gave up." Let's make it about what you can do with your child