bringlenttolifeOne of the great joys of getting connected with other Catholic writers is finding out about the great work they’re doing. My family benefits, too, because I find myself stretching and applying my faith to our family life in ever-creative and practical ways.

Today, I’m delighted to share a conversation I had with Catholic wife, mom, and author Kathleen Basi about her Lenten book, Bring Lent to Life: Activities and Reflections for Your Family (Liguori Publications, 2011).

Kate, tell us a little bit about your Lent book, Bring Lent to Life.

Bring Lent to Life addresses one topic for each week of Lent: Fasting and Almsgiving, Prayer, Baptism/RCIA, repentance/reconciliation, Renewal, Passover, and then of course, Holy Week. It’s my very favorite weekend of the whole year, and I’m on a mission to get more people to attend Triduum liturgies.

There are lots of books out there on these topics. What makes this one different is the blending of reflection and action that is appropriate for kids, even young kids. I took the idea of the Jesse Tree–a bare tree that is decorated through prayer, one day at a time–and adapted it for use during Lent. Prayers, thanksgivings, one- or two-word responses to a reflection or activity–all these things are added to the tree so that you begin the season in the desert and end it in an explosion of color and growth paralleling the one you see happening in Creation. Of course, many activities aren’t connected with the Easter tree. One week you make pretzels, another week you do litter cleanup. I’m all about integrating faith into fun and into service to the world at large.

What inspired you to write a book with activities and resources for families to use for Lent?

I really liked the idea of exploring topics associated with the season in a new way, one wasn’t all “Lent is missssery!” Because after all, the point of repentance is not to make yourself miserable; it’s to grow closer to God. That’s a beautiful, joy-filled, incredibly liberating idea. That’s what Lent is. It’s like a diet–it can be hard to deny yourself things, but you feel better almost as soon as you begin. And like a diet, it’s not supposed to be something you do for a while and then quit; conversion is supposed to be a permanent lifestyle change.

Tell the truth: what do you hate about Lent?

Hmm. Giving up sweets (it’s a family thing), but most of all, giving up the up-tempo contemporary songs at church.

Now what do you love about Lent?

I love the sparseness of the season. It’s like a brand new start again, just when your new year’s resolutions have started to feel lifeless. There’s something about going through the figurative, spiritual “desert,” about journeying toward new life, that really focuses me. I’m a better person during Lent.

How do you intend us to use your book?

This book is meant to be taken weekly rather than daily, as my Advent book was. Lent is a long season and the reality is, in family life you can’t keep up a daily pace for that long. (At least, we can’t!) Do it on the weekends if you’re too busy during the week, or take a little time a couple evenings a week after school and talk through the topics. Then pick a couple of activities–every chapter lists several to choose from–to do as a family. It might be as simple as finding the name of an RCIA candidate or catechumen and praying for them; it could be as in-depth as a hike along the neighborhood drainage creek, cleaning up trash. You can pick and choose what’s realistic for your family.

What resources (besides your book, of course) will your family be using this Lent?

Well, I’m looking forward to using yours, of course (Welcome Risen Jesus: Lent and Easter Reflections for Families, Liguori Publications, 2012). I love the connection between reflection, prayer and action. Besides that and Bring Lent to Life, I’ll be reading daily devotions from Living Faith and working through Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain. Those, of course, are for my personal journey, not things to use with the kids. But whatever awakens me and invites me to think or confront inconvenient truths always trickles outward into the rest of life. I end up blogging about it, talking about it with my kids, or simply changing the fabric of life a bit to accommodate new knowledge and insight. And all of that, in turn, impacts the way my children perceive matters of faith.

Sarah Reinhard’s a Catholic wife, mom, and author whose nose is probably in a book if she’s not scraping something off of her shoes. Her latest book is A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism and she’s online at

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