Lent and Easter
in the Domestic Church

Doing Better

Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier

Page vi in "Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"

One of my favorite Lenten traditions is not in this book. You see, we live in a small rural hamlet, about a twenty-minute drive from our parish church. I would like to go to daily Mass—I am sure it would do me immeasurable good—but it is not possible to coordinate Mass times with the school bus schedules, the part-time after-school work schedules, and all the rest of the activities of a busy family with two aging cars.

Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church

"Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"
at the
Catholic Company store.

During Lent, though, we attend the Lenten Wednesday night Masses that our priest holds in the parish. Not only are these quiet evening Masses good altar-boy practice for my young sons, they are a calm, bright spot in the midst of our busy week. Our large church is almost empty at these Masses. There is no choir, no guitars, no jolly-friendly homily, just the Word and the Eucharist. And every Lenten Wednesday evening I realize that this is all that is necessary. Just the priest, my family, the Lord, and I. Everything else is extra. And sometimes a distracting extra.

Our small sacrifices of Lent—the organization to get us all out of the house on a Wednesday evening and myself to Friday afternoon Stations of the Cross, the time spent planning meatless meals, the abstinence from whatever habit needs bending, if not breaking (coffee, sweets, television), and our other Lenten practices—are all reminders of what is necessary and what is extra.

Lent is a penitential season. This does not mean it is a season for berating myself about what a sinner I am. Rather, it is a season for practicing doing better. Doing better at remembering the difference between necessary and extra. Doing better at following God's plan. Just doing better at being who we are. Jesus Christ and his bride, the Church, give us Lent as a special time to practice this in preparation for the great feast of Easter. (See CCC 1169.)

For me, getting to Mass twice a week, praying the Stations of the Cross on Friday afternoons, doing without coffee or chocolate, and relying on something other than caffeine or will power to get me through the day is doing better. Not best, but better. For you and your family, it will be something else.

Over the years, we have collected a number of activities to celebrate and observe Lent in the domestic church, things that help us all practice doing better. Some of them worked well when our children were little, while others were effective during those special Lenten seasons when we were preparing a child for First Confession and First Communion. (See CCC 2223, 2232.)

I have found that Lenten traditions can be a bit flexible—unlike Advent, for, once an Advent tradition has been added to your family observances, it is with you until all your children marry. Our family chooses three or four practices each year, things that suit the age range, interests, and abilities of the family at the time, and a different three or four the year after. One year we might abstain from desserts, pray the Stations of the Cross, and go to Wednesday night Mass. The next year, we might have more meatless meals, put the money saved in an alms box, do more volunteer work, and go to Wednesday night Mass.

This book shares some of the Lenten and Easter practices that have worked for our family and for others. We have included our favorite family activities, crafts for the whole family, and a number of pictures for the children to color. For additional copies of the coloring pictures and craft patterns, visit our “secret" web page at (you need to buy the book to get this link ...). Some important feasts fall in Lent, and we have included them too, with information about traditional celebrations and some recipes for you to try. We have added many prayers, both for Lent and for the whole year. In addition, throughout the book, we have noted the numbers of relevant passages in the Catechism of the Catholic Church like this: (CCC 222).

I encourage you to try out the many activities in this book—but not all at once!—and develop your own Lenten practices, your own ways of doing better. See what happens in your own domestic church.