10 Lent Ideas to Spark Your Faith
Coming from a Hispanic background I have celebrated Lent many times in my life, although I must confess, today I celebrate Lent more away from my traditional Catholic upbringing. Nevertheless, La Cuaresma, how we call it in Spanish, is a wonderful vehicle to renovate your faith and spread excellent values to those around you.
One thing is for sure, this holiday is a very important one to many Latino communities, where faith is a vital part of daily life. While Lent is most commonly associated with Catholicism, anyone can use Lent to help them focus their prayers and energy on God in the 40 days leading up to Easter.
I started thinking about the meaning of lent and how could I bring back this tradition into my life in a traditional and non-traditional way and here I have these ideas for you.
Five Traditional Lent Ideas
1. Use Fasting. This is the most traditional and most common way to celebrate Lent. Fasting represents a commemoration of the roughly 40 hours that Jesus lay in the tomb after the crucifixion, as well as the fasting that the apostles did to mourn him.
The exact restrictions of the fast evolved over the years and are now different for various Christian denominations. You might fast all day and only eat at night, or eat a restricted diet that avoids “luxury” foods like eggs, meat, and cheese. Or, you might simply give up one favorite food like chocolate, coffee, or red meat as a penance during Lent.
2. Bake Lenten Breads. Baking Lenten breads like hot cross buns or pretzels is another traditional way to celebrate. The crosses in these breads represent a monk’s arms crossed in prayer.
3. Use Purple Decorations. The color purple is associated with the suffering Jesus experienced during the crucifixion. As the color of royalty, purple also symbolizes Jesus’ status as the son of God. Churches and homes are often decorated with purple during Lent for this reason.
4. Read About the Stations of the Cross. Lent is the most traditional time to perform the stations of the cross, which is a devotional that helps believers focus on each event in Jesus’ final hours leading up to the crucifixion.
Many countries in Latin America have a performance group that acts out the stations with full participation of the audience.
5. Practice Charitable Giving. God gave the world his only son in order to be our salvation. In recognition of this divine gift, believers traditionally step up their own charitable giving during Lent.
This giving act is one of the most perfect lent ideas because it gives you the opportunity to involve your children teaching them the power of giving and how it helps others.
We ask our son what percentage of his savings he is willing to share and we guide him from there. Believe me, it is not his favorite thing to do however, the idea is set in his mind as we have been repeating it over the years.
Five Creative Lent Ideas
1. Participate in Digital Fasting. Yup, giving up TV, video games, email, Facebook, or even the whole internet during Lent is a neat modern twist on traditional fasting. Without these distractions, you will have more time to focus on prayer during Lent.
2. Use Fasting for Charity. Don’t just give up something for Lent-use this act of self-denial to fund your charitable giving. For example, you might give up coffee and contribute the money you would have spent on your daily java to charity.
3. Give Up Negativity. This is one of my favorite lent ideas. In the spirit of fasting, try giving up a negative quality or emotion like anger, fear, or selfishness. Make a commitment to turn your thought to Christ every time one of these emotions tempts you.
4. Embrace Modern Lent Readings. Try reading the Catholic Church’s set of daily Lent Bible passages from a modern Bible translation for a fresh perspective on the scriptures.
5. Celebrate as a Family. Celebrating Lent as a family will create more opportunities for discussion of faith and it will also help all family members have the willpower to follow through on their Lent promises.
You can also set up a game where you use family accountability making sure all members help each other keep their promises for this time of the year. Here is how:
- Set the goals for mom, dad and each kid.
- Write the goals (what each person is giving up for lent) and make them clear.
- Post them in a visible place in the house.
- The one who cheats or breaks their sacrifice has to place certain amount of money for charity in the money pot.
- Donate what you collected to your favorite charity.