My parish has family gathering sessions a few times each year to help its parishioners, especially the children, better understand their Catholic Faith. The theme of the most recent gathering session was Lent and what families could do to during this period of time to help the kids understand the meaning of Lent and the importance of abstinence, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. There were a lot of great ideas on how to get the entire family involved in Lenten practices and one of my favorites was "The Fasting Cup". Michaela decorated a large cup and we each wrote down things on slips of paper that we thought it would be good to fast from during Lent and placed them in the cup. Michaela, knowing her father and I very well, wrote down a number of things such as giving up coffee, the computer and the TV, among other things. ( I'm sure Randy is hoping I'll pick the coffee slip!) Randy and I also filled out a number of slips with things that we thought she could do, also, like giving up video games, desserts, complaining (grin) and other things that she particularly likes. Each day everyone takes a slip from The Fasting Cup and gives up that item for the day (or longer for the adults).
We also made a "Prayer Bowl" that we filled with ideas for doing extra things for the Lord during Lent and each person picks from that bowl once a day. Today, my "extra" is to learn about a new or little known saint and tonight I will share what I learned with the others. Michaela picked "being extra loving to people" and Randy picked "praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet". The slips in the Prayer Bowl contain anything from "extra Bible reading" to "Praying for the person in this world who needs it the most".
Michaela is very excited about putting these ideas into practice and I have to admit that her enthusiasm is catchy - I'm not sure I've ever been so excited about fasting before. Seeing things through the eyes of a child seems to make all the difference.