How We Observe Lent

Lent is probably my favorite liturgical season because of how it builds, and how we are challenged to convert, to change our hearts, to turn to and with the Lord.  There are millenia of traditions embedded within the season, giving it an unparalleled richness.  This post is not about that.  Rather, it’s about how we try to keep Lent in our household.  

First off, we’re vegetarian, so the Friday days of abstinence are modified.  We typically abstain from cheese on Fridays throughout the year, so we try to make our Lenten Friday meals a little more simple than usual.  Soups figure prominently in the menu.  We also reserve cheese for solmnenities, rather than regular weekdays.  I avoid all animal products, and eat only two meals.  The children can choose to omit the yogurt from their oatmeal and to forego milk with dinner.  None of them is old enough yet for the law of abstinence to apply.  As a family eliminate extra sugar from our diet.  We’re already usually pretty sugar-free, but this translates into streusel-free coffee cake on Sunday and no jam on toast during the week.  

One fun food that we do during Lent is pretzels.  It turns into a Sunday afternoon of rolling, shaping, boiling, and baking.  And, of course, eating.

I typically give up coffee and all caffeine.  I almost didn’t this year since my coffee consumption is pretty low now, but went ahead anyway.  The twinge of headache on Ash Wednesday was enough to remind me that I’m still coffee-dependent, and need to be dependent on the Lord.

We try to do Stations of the Cross a few times, usually just at home.  If we’re feeling especially ambitious (or in need of a dose of humility), we’ll go to the church.  We work on saying more prayers together as a family.

Yakum is preparing for First Communion this year.  She did her first reconciliation in Colorado, and we need to talk to the parish priest here about when she can make her First Communion.  She isn’t quite ready, and I’m focusing on that during our catechism time.  She’s getting the meaning of Lent, and I think that the Triduum will be really special for her, or at least, I hope that she’ll put things together.  She’s a smart one, and probably will, if I can get my ego out of the way, gently guide her, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

Later on in Lent I’ll try to write about some of our Triduum traditions.  We’ll probably have to scale back this year since the twins are in a rather precocious phase, but we’ll see how the Spirit moves us.