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One on One
Activities to help nurture faith.
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Many Christians celebrate Lent, the season of fasting and prayer before the celebration of Easter. Lent actually began in the very earliest days of Christianity; it was customary for new converts to be baptized on Easter, since that emphasized the connection between Jesus’ rising again and their new life as His disciples. So previous to baptism, Christian converts would spend a forty-day period of fasting and prayer, patterned after Jesus’ preparation for His earthy ministry in the desert, to demonstrate genuine repentance and desire to pursue God’s spiritual gifts rather than worldly advantages. All the other members of the Church would fast with them, in brotherly love and support. And so we can continue to follow this tradition today with our children, taking time over Lent to spend more time enjoying God’s Presence and helping others, and less time preoccupied with worldly pressures and pleasures. In the early days, fasting from meat was the most common practice—it would not only have shown spiritual restraint, but the simple meal preparation would have saved time (for prayer) and money (for giving to the poor), since meat was so expensive. Today, there are other foods and practices that tend to preoccupy us more and pull us away from total dependence on God. One idea is to fast from the Internet, other than what is absolutely necessary for school and work, during Lent. (Lent has never been a time of total abstinence, merely of enforced moderation, “going the right length and no further” [C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 50th Anniversary ed. (London: HarperCollinsPublishers, 2002), p. 78], as C.S. Lewis described the virtue of temperance). Or make a switch to bringing homemade bag lunches to school and work, instead of fast food from the cafeteria or vending machines. Discuss as a family what you wish to exchange for quality time with God during this Lent, setting new priorities in your spiritual life. You can see how your child will come to understand more fully over time.
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