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Center for Catholic Education at UD

10 Ways to Celebrate Lent in the Classroom

By Lindsey Bronder

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. During the next 40 days, we as Catholics try to prepare ourselves for the Easter season. We are called to focus on improving our spiritual well-being through Lenten sacrifices based on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Fasting usually involves giving up or depriving ourselves of something that we desire or is indulgent. For many, this is usually what they focus on during Lent such as giving up sweets or pop. Practicing prayer as a Lenten sacrifice can include adding an extra element to our prayer lives that may not be part of our normal routine. Almsgiving involves giving in some way such as your time, talent, and or wealth.

If you’re like me, it can be hard to come up with new ideas each year that are challenging, life-changing, and creative. In addition, it can be difficult to think of ways you can incorporate them into the classroom to encourage and support students as they also embark on their Lenten journey. So here are some ways and resources to help you promote the spirit of Lent in your classroom beyond giving up sweets.

1. Want to have the Best Lent Ever? Then consider signing up for Matthew Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic series of the same name that include inspirational videos and questions for reflection. These would be great to start class of with as part of a journaling activity.

2. Read the Scriptures for that day’s mass or that Sunday’s mass. Consider having students write a short reflection on the Gospel reading message and meaning in their lives.

3. Consider creating a new classroom policy with your students that involves giving something up, like giving up complaining or using the word “can’t”. You never know, this could be a great way to change the classroom culture or attitude.

4. Say the Liturgy of the Hours with your students as a way to familiarize them with this practice. If your students are unfamiliar with the Divine Office, you could teach a unit about the history and different components. (Saying the Angelus at noon would be a good way to start class after lunch!)

5. Read the Works of Mercy as Jesus describes them in Matthew 25:31-46. After reflection, have your students think of ways they could put these into practice. Consider choosing an act of service based on a work of mercy that the class could perform such as write letters to the imprisoned.

6. As part of almsgiving, have students learn more about a social issue (racism, environment, poverty, immigration, diversity) that affects their community. Have students choose and learn about an organization or charity that works to address this issue. Consider having students as a class or individually give in some way to this organization, whether a gift of their time in service or a collection of donations to support their work.  

7. Practice Christian meditation with your students as way to encourage mental prayer and developing a relationship with God. Try taking the first 10 minutes of class to have students quietly meditate on a Scripture passage, a religious image, or Christian music. In a world where students are bombarded by distractions with so much technology and media, this can be a prime opportunity to silence the noise and listen to God.

8. Engage in daily prayer at the beginning or end of class. Challenge students to write their own or find a prayer that they can lead the class in saying. Students may enjoy the opportunity to share a video or song  (pre-approved of course!) that could serve as a source for prayer and reflection.

9. Pray for others. Consider asking students to offer up intentions or submit intentions in an intention jar. This is a great way to remind students of the dignity of every person and how “each one of them is Jesus in disguise” (Mother Teresa).

10. Take something on: 40 journals, 40 letters, 40 Scripture passages, 40 acts of kindness… For example, have students each write a sticky note with a compliment on them so that you have a collection of 40 or so compliments to post around the school to bring smiles to other students’ faces.

While this is not a comprehensive list, I hope that these will help inspire your personal Lenten sacrifices and give you ideas for how to celebrate Lent in your classroom. May God bless you and keep you these next 40 days!

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