The Lenten season is upon us again and what a better time to connect with your children about the meaning of Lent and why we celebrate the important time as Catholics. Lent is the period of time that allows families to prepare for Easter, the celebration of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection. During this time, we try to make certain changes in order to become closer to God. As an adult, we use the time to reflect and pray, but often times our children might find it be hard to understand why Jesus died and why their normal routine is being changed, and the thought of fasting and sacrificing the things they enjoy may frighten your child. In order for her to understand they are not being denied her beloved treats, it’s important to explain to their in a child-friendly way what Lenten ideals are all about.
Start with His Story
To start, you want your child to understand where their Catholic roots began. A great way to start is to share the story of Jesus Christ — even if they already know it, children love story time, and it helps them retain the information! Do this on a regular basis; in the Bible, read about Jesus’ life and search for Easter books for children. Emphasize the fact that Jesus lived on Earth and He achieved everlasting life. Some great books to help reinforce this are “The Week that Led to Easter” by Joanne Larrison and “The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross” by Carl Laferton .
Talk About His Death
One of the hardest parts of meaning behind Lent and Easter is explaining death to a child. In order to explain Lenten ideals to your child, you will need to discuss the Resurrection of Jesus with her. Don’t go into excessive detail about the crucifixion itself, as you don’t want to frighten or sadden her. Explain to her that Jesus died for the salvation of His believers. For young children, you can simply say Jesus died and rises on Easter for us. Older children can listen to a little more details about death. Remember: Emphasize that death is not the end, but the beginning of eternal life.
The Meaning of Easter
For a child, often times they only see the “fun” part about celebrating a holiday like Easter or Christmas without giving too much thought to the meaning behind it. They are focusing on attending Easter egg hunts, what the Easter Bunny will leave them in the baskets, and how much candy and goodies they will receive. However, Easter is the most important holiday in the Catholic faith. It goes beyond cute bunnies, painted eggs, and chocolate candy. Remind your child that these are just festivities and activities to celebrate, but the real purpose of this special time is the resurrection and when He rises. Jesus sacrificed His life to give ours meaning. In return, we need to reflect and prepare for the glory that is Easter Sunday. Once your child understands this, then you can discuss what can be given and what can be taken away. Most times during Lent we talk about what we are giving up or sacrificing during the Lenten season, but don’t forget that you can add things like doing acts of service like volunteering at a parish Fish Fry, attending Stations of the Cross, praying on a regular basis or even going to Reconciliation during this time. Then you can move on to the fun things like decorating eggs and making that annual visit to see the Easter Bunny.
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