Lent is a time in the Church year when we are asked to take stock, to step back and look at our lives as we prepare to celebrate the mystery of Easter. In the spring, many people also engage in a yearly tradition of giving the house a deep cleaning. So we have decided to combine the two this year in a room-by-room spring cleaning that also doubles as a family examination of conscience:

Living/Family Room: This is often the entertainment center of the home, and a good place to ask, “What influences are we bringing into our home?” Are there movies, TV shows, video games, or music that are not compatible with the lives God has called us to live? (Some good resources for parents who wish to check this out can be found at www.usccb.org/movies, parentstv.org, and parentpreviews.com).

Library/Study: With what are we feeding our minds? Do our reading and Internet-surfing habits help us to be the people God made us to be? Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Hint for parents: The Internet can be a dangerous place for children and teens, and while good filters can help, they are not always enough. Be sure to keep Internet access in a common room so you can monitor your child’s surfing without appearing nosy.)

Playroom: This is a good place to ask, “Do we take time to relax and enjoy life (and one another)? In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we are commanded to take a day of rest each week (“Remember the Sabbath…”). God is so good to command us to slow down and appreciate all our blessings. While in the playroom, we can also ask, “Do we share with one another as we should?”

Kitchen: Are we being good to the bodies God gave us? Are we eating nutritious food and limiting junk food? Are we making good use of our resources? Are we recycling? Are we giving to those who don’t have food to eat? Also, in the kitchen we can ask, “Are we working together and doing our fair share around the house?”

Dining Room: Recent studies have shown that when families have regular meals together, children make better grades, communicate better with their parents, have lower rates of depression, and get into less trouble. Do we make together time a priority? Are we considerate and empathetic as we talk to one another?

Bedroom: Are we spending some time each day talking to God? Many people do this in the form of “bedtime prayers.” Whether at bedtime or at another time, praying together as a family has recognized benefits for family life. It really is true that “the family that prays together stays together.”