In recent times, there has been an odd reaction to fasting and abstinence in many Catholic families. Let me make some comparisons.
In the old days, when I was a child, Friday abstinence from meat was almost a worldwide Catholic practice. Even though the age of abstinence is 14, all families I knew and the Catholic school lunches did not have meat on Friday or Ash Wednesday. This was an old custom.
The idea that all of the sudden a young adult of 14 will start eating only fish or eggs on Friday is ludicrous. Catholic families should all be abstaining together, from little on.
As to fasting, the same applies but most ridiculous is the age in America, 18-60. I grew up fasting with my parents, as part of formation and character building. Again, for a normal healthy child, this is possible. And, by the way, in England, where the abstinence rule has been reinstated, all the over 60s I know are abstaining from meat on Fridays, including me.
To think an adult at 18 going off to college will suddenly do something he has never done at home is again, an indication of too much laxity on the home front regarding character building.
Remember, that millions of us fasted from midnight and then for three hours before Holy Communion most of our childhood, if not all.
There is no reason why a healthy toddler cannot abstain for meat and have fish and/or eggs.
Lenten observance should affect the entire family. It is supposed to be hard. We ate waffles and egg souffle as well as various types of fish. To this day, my son love the hot tuna salad with macaroni, peas, cheese, mayo, onions and so on which is a staple in many Midwest families for Fridays.
Lenten practices for children at an early age should include the Stations of the Cross, which one can make at home with drawings, having a penny poor box on the dining room table to remind one of those who cannot eat and need help, giving up deserts all Lent, or candy.
Things which are pro-active include visiting old people with the children on the weekend-in fact, one can ask one's pastor for names of shut-ins. Reading the Passover experience of the Jews and working on that with acting out or peg-dolls are other activities.
If, and I hope not, you have television, no television for Lent is a great penance, or no computer games. I know mothers and dads who had the children stop computer games during Lent. Many good things came out of that practice.
Helping in food banks during Lent is something teens can do through the diocesan programs.
And, most importantly, extra hours of Adoration. Children can go to Adoration easily. Start with a half-hour and build up.
I know of several home schooling families which are part of regular Adoration. The parishoners love their witness, as in one case, the mom brings in five children, the oldest being about twelve.
Lenten hymns or Gregorian Chant may be done in the home, and do not forget the Icon Corner.
Also, Lent is the time to teach about both Justice and Mercy. Maria Montessori points out in her book which is being highlighted off and on in this series, that justice is a great light of faith, "which assures to each one of us a reward for every good action we have done." Justice is not merely punishment, but reward, and the sheep and the goats parable can be emphasized in Lent with the parable boxes.
|I like the recumbent Roman soldier here|
I am not at this time going to do an Easter Time post, but the family can make the empty tomb as in this photo, and mom can make a lamb cake, which is not that hard. Link here.
To be continued...