The Orthodox Church has established several ways to prepare ourselves for the greatest of feasts, Pascha. We are not “making up” for past sins. We are not “making sacrifices” to or for God. Instead we use the 6 weeks of Great Lent and Holy Week which follows to develop better habits, to walk in the footsteps of Christ, in order to turn our lives around and become closer to God. Here are some ways which can make Great Lent meaningful to your child.
Establish a quiet time in front of an icon in the morning and at night to pray. Every class is learning certain prayers. This is a perfect time to practice them
Pray at mealtime, especially as a family.
We do not “give up’ something for Lent, such as cookies, candy, etc. Instead we respect the food God has given us, thank Him for it, eat properly and only as much as our body needs to be healthy. Just as Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert, we fast for the 40 days of Lent and during Holy Week, as well.
The Church teaches that we do not eat meat or dairy products from the beginning of Lent until Pascha. There is no minimum or maximum age. Parents need to adapt this according to the needs of their children.
If your family does not yet fully fast, add at least one more meatless day to the family’s menu. Instead of the usual 2 (Wednesdays and Fridays), add Monday. Many families choose to go meatless the first week of Lent and Holy Week.
- Skip 2nd helpings.
- Instead of cheese sandwiches, have tuna or peanut butter.
- Choose fruit instead of ice cream for dessert.
- Limit the amount of milk, taking only what is necessary. Drink water or juice instead
- Try some new foods to replace those which are not eaten during Lent.
Remember that the full meaning of fasting applies not only to food but also to our way of life. It is a quiet time. It is a time to focus on our relationship with God. It is not an appropriate time for parties.
- Limit the amount of TV and electronics time. Select programs which are “family friendly.”
- Avoid going to the movies.
- Spend more time with friends and family.
GO TO CHURCH
- Attend Divine Liturgy, on time, every Sunday, staying until the dismissal and final blessing.
- Attend Saturday afternoon services, usually at 4:00 p.m.
- Attend at least one Lenten service each week. Pre-sanctified liturgies are held on Friday evenings
- Attend Divine Liturgy on Saturday mornings.
“Alms” strictly refers to money given to help the needy.
- The “Pennies from Heaven” project gives students an opportunity to do this.
- In addition to collecting donations from others, donate from allowance or chore money.
- Do extra chores for donations.
DO GOOD DEEDS
- Help family, friends and neighbors above and beyond chores.
- Go through toys and clothes that are no longer needed. Give to Bundles for Ukraine or any other organization which helps those in need.
READ THE BIBLE
- The wall calendar provided by the church lists the bible readings for each day. For those children who can read an adult bible, this is an excellent way to start as the readings are short.
- For younger children, there are many children’s bibles or books with bible stories available.
- The Church School library has many bible story books that may be borrowed for the Lenten period. We ask that you keep track of the book(s) borrowed.
- Read with your child and discuss what has been read and, if possible, how it applies to his/her life.
GO TO CONFESSION AND RECEIVE COMMUNION
All Orthodox Christians who have made their first confessions are expected to go to confession and communion at least four times each year during the four Lenten periods. It is absolutely required during Great Lent in order to continue to receive communion.
The Church School has designated Sunday, April 3 immediately following Divine Liturgy for confession for students, teachers and any family members who wish to join them. (Church School classes will be held and will end at 12:15 as usual.)
Students and their families may choose instead to go to confession before any Divine Liturgy (come early) or after Saturday services. Receiving these sacraments is a requirement.
- Begin Great Lent by attending Forgiveness Sunday Vespers on March 6 at 12:15 p.m. following the Pre-Lenten party.
- Help your child identify what he/she has done to someone that is hurtful and ask forgiveness from that person.
- If your child has been offended or even physically hurt by another, help him/her to find a way to forgive whoever has hurt him/her.