Lent Explained to Our Children

   Five kids sat around me as we discussed what we were giving up for Lent.
   “Sweets!” said one.
   “Chocolate!” said another.
   “Movies!”  said the third, to which all the kids replied, “Ohhhhhh!”  That really touched a nerve.
   I asked, “If Lent is a time for fasting, prayer and almsgiving, and you know what your are going to do for your fast, what are you going to focus on for your prayer?”
    They were silent.
    I said, “One thing we can do is think about ways we need to improve, areas of our lives that we need to bring to God.  The Bible says, ‘You are concerned with the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but you have a log in your own.’  We can take that time to consider what the log in our eye is.”
    They nodded.  But I could tell that one of the girls was pondering if she really had a log in her eye. Indeed, she is a very virtuous, sacrificial, humble girl.  So I said, “Lent can also be a time to become more grateful.  You know that I teach poor, distressed, and homeless mothers at the crisis pregnancy center.  You could be one of their daughters.  But instead, you have our family.  You could spend Lent thanking God for that.”
    This comment stirred responses.
    “Yes, you and dad are married, unlike some of my friends’ parents!”
    “And we have enough to eat, and clothes enough to wear.  We have so much!”
    “That’s right,” I replied.  “In Mass today, the priest will put ashes on your forehead, and say, ‘From dust you have come, and to dust you shall return.’  You may think about that–nothing you have, even your breath or life, much less you opportunities and comforts and many blessings, is owed to you.  It all comes from God.  God is the giver of all good things.  Perhaps you could write many of these blessings down, and pray over them every day as your Lenten prayer.”  They were resolved to do that.  One of them said, “This is a better way to go through Lent, rather than just giving up chocolate!”
    The other one piped up: “If I do that, do I still have to give up movies?”