Today marks the first Sunday of Lent and now that Sophia’s old enough to understand a bit better I wanted to involve her more in the journey. It all started with Legos…she recently got a new Ariel Lego set and saw a couple in the catalog that she wanted to add to her collection. You all know I love Legos too so I didn’t want to say no but I also wasn’t about to run out to the store and buy her what she wanted. So we started talking about the Easter bunny and why he brings gifts. It led me to build upon some key things we heard at church so we could implement them in our house. During today’s homily the priest reminded us of the Ash Wednesday gospel (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18) and how we’re called to alms giving, prayer and fasting during Lent. So how do you relate that to a 5 year old? We talked it out and created a Lent board; with a little help she wrote the words prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Next to them she wrote things we could do to fulfill these; going to church was what she chose for prayer (probably because we’ve been terrible about going lately), picking up trash for almsgiving (she’s 5, she doesn’t really have money but hey she can give her time and help clean up the environment – we even talked about going to clean up the beach so the turtles and other creatures stay safe) and no ice cream for fasting (hey no ice cream treat is a big deal to this 5 year old at heart as well).
Since todays gospel (Luke 4:1-13) talked about Jesus being in the desert for 40 days we added a scene to our Lent board to help us with that. The first part is a count down to Saint Patrick’s Day; as the weeks go by we will add a piece of the rainbow until it reaches the pot of gold. Since Saint Patrick’s Day falls on a Sunday this year it’ll help explain how the 40 days are counted. I’m very excited to be doing this with Sophia this year. Back during Advent we had Elf on the Shelf and it helped us talk about Advent and Christmas a bit better, linking religion into everyday life (as it should be in my opinion), diving deeper into her faith.
I truly believe children should be involved more in their religion. Too often I see people brush children off when it comes to attending church – they get shoved in nurseries or asked to leave or many families don’t even go to mass together because it’s “too hard” (I know I’m guilty of using that excuse). Too often people think children don’t understand what’s going on during mass but trust me in their own way they do! I recently heard a beautiful story about a toddler boy talking with his mom about Mary. When he was asked how he knew certain things about the statue he replied “God told me.” I believe God did tell him and I believe that children have an awesome ability to listen to God. It makes me wonder, when do we lose that? Why do we get so caught up in making excuses to not be in touch with God in those child like ways? Why do people say children are the future of the church? Children are an important part of the church, not just the future but from the moment they were baptized into the church they are a crucial part of the body of Christ! We could take our cue from children – I know I am right now with my daughter. Together we will journey through Lent and grow together as a family of faith. I encourage you to take a moment and pray “with faith like a child.”