Faith & Life


Go Beyond Almsgiving to Cultivate New Habits of Prayer and Thankfulness this Season

By Cathi Douglas     3/7/2018

In his message to the faithful on Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis urged listeners to beware “the emptiness of everything that is instantaneous, momentary and fleeting” during the Lenten season and not forget tenderness and compassion. 

“Pause for a little while, refrain from the deafening noise that weakens and confuses our hearing, that makes us forget the fruitful and creative power of silence,” he said. 

For Catholics, Lent is a season of prayer, fasting, sacrifice and penance. It is tedious and difficult, but it can be 40 days during which we grow closer to God. 

Catholic families who mark the season of Lent together can grow closer to each other as they break bad habits and cultivate healthy new ones. From, here are 10 activities for Catholic families during Lent. 

  1. Attend Mass on Ash Wednesday. Wear your ashes out into the world as a witness to your faith.
  2. Commit to reading the Bible every day together as a family.
  3. Have a pancake dinner or make a King Cake, a type of cake associated in many countries with pre-Lenten celebrations. Recipes for King Cake can be found at
  4. Attend Stations of the Cross.
  5. Choose a Lenten sacrifice to do as a family. Is there something your family can sacrifice that might help another in need? Consider donating what you might spend on a meal to a food pantry instead.
  6. Make cards of encouragement to those in your parish RCIA program. After a lot of study and prayer, most of them will be received into the Church at the end of Lent.
  7. Use a printable Lenten calendar to track the season. One is provided at
  8. Attend some of the Holy Week Masses and activities at your parish.
  9. Make at least one of your meatless Friday meals together as a family. This can be a great testimonial for younger children as you remember together one of the unique features of our faith.
  10. On Holy Thursday do a foot washing with your family members. has a wonderful Lenten program called Best Lent Ever that you and your family can sign up for. Starting Ash Wednesday, you receive daily emails with short inspirational videos, practical tips to incorporate into your everyday life, and personal stories from Dynamic Catholic team members. It promises that “your 40 days of Lent will be an incredibly transformative experience because you’ve learned simple yet powerful ways to become the person God created you to be.” 


RealLifeAtHome.Com offers a printed plan that families can fill out to keep track of their activities during Lent. The Planning for Lent printout has three categories – prayer, fasting and almsgiving or service.  

For prayer, the site suggests setting time aside for quiet and prayer every day, praying for someone new from church, school or work each day, and attending church at least once during the week other than on a Sunday. 

For fasting, the site recommends giving up a certain food, drink or candy that you love, giving up the computer or TV one day per week, stop eating meals out, giving up an activity that wastes your time, fasting one day a week or focus on having simple meals during Lent. 

Ideas for almsgiving and service include volunteering for a local organization, giving up some of your normal spending and donating the money instead to those in needs, helping a friend or neighbor in need, or visiting an elderly friend or relative who doesn’t receive many visitors.