Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Entering Lent with Child-Like Love

By Jennifer Gregory Miller ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 13, 2024 | In The Liturgical Year

Yesterday during a Level II/III CGS atrium session (children ages 6-12), we talked about the changing of the Liturgical seasons. What season are we entering? One 7-year-old boy responded saying “Leeeent” with such emphasis on dread and negativity.

As I’ve been pondering his response, I recognized my own tendency to think in that manner: “Lent is so hard…Lent is so long…I dread Lent….”

Was his reaction because of what he has observed adults say and do? Have the parents shared a negative or heavy view of Lent for the family? Or is his reaction simply a human reaction, due to the effects of original sin that we dislike anything that means self-denial or will take effort?

As I have mentioned a few times, I am currently taking AMI Montessori Primary Training to be with children ages 3-6. Because of this, many of my thoughts have been looking at life through the eyes of the young child. This includes spiritual aspects, holding Scripture passages in my mind, such as “and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6) and the words of Jesus: “Thus says the Lord: Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven“ (Mt 18:3) and “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it“ (Mark 10:13-16).

What aspects can we imitate from the little child? The child is full of joy and wonder and has so much love to share. Their prayer language is love and praise of God, not petition. Given the right atmosphere and tools, this young age is the time to develop and deepen their personal relationship with Jesus…which began on the day of their baptism.

Will a young child naturally have joy approaching Lent? It depends on how Lent is presented to them. Instead of the adult’s response of viewing Lent as a time of privation, what if it’s presented as a time as preparation for Easter? What would preparation be? Preparation is a special time to spend time with Jesus and really get to know Him, and to deepen our love.

Shouldn’t we be excited by that opportunity? If we were in the dating part of our courtship with our future spouse, wouldn’t we want to spend as much time with our future spouse as we could so we really could know and love him/her more? If I put it in this perspective, then when we “give up” things, it’s so we can have better quality time with each other. That applies to time with Jesus.

Since, as an adult, I have reached the age of reason and morality, there is an added morality aspect that will be missing from a young child’s approach. But even so, I still think I need to adjust my thoughts even in this area into a more positive and child-like outlook. I previously wrote a little on the CGS approach to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. More recently a local priest, Fr. James Searby, repeated on his podcast language similar language to what CGS uses. We should be using this approach to make a positive examination of ourselves and our love for God:

God is love. We need to just rest in that statement, as that should be transformative in itself. Everything about God is love. So our approach should also be about loving God. Every day we should ask ourselves “How much did I love and how well did I love both God and others?”

Our examination for Lent and daily examination of conscience should be in this kind of language:

  • How well did I love God today?
  • Did I love God with all of my heart?
  • Where was I lacking in love, not just love of God, but love of self and love of others?
  • What are the blocks I am putting in the way of my love for God, self and others?

It’s a shift in thinking. Instead of just looking at making my list of sins, I’m remembering that sin is simply not loving God, but loving something else instead. It is putting blocks in our love of God, and not putting Him first.

And so I’m trying to enter into this Lent as an opportunity for love. And I’m excited at having the gift of this liturgical time to work on my relationship with Christ.

Jennifer Gregory Miller is a wife, mother, homemaker, CGS catechist, and Montessori teacher. Specializing in living the liturgical year, or liturgical living, she is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org’s liturgical year section. See full bio.

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