Keeping a Holy Lent :: 40 Bags in 40 Days (Printable)


During Lent we take care to ensure that we are making notable sacrifices for our own betterment and to draw us in closer to Christ. We prune and weed out bad habits in the hopes of becoming more disciplined.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we also did this throughout our own homes– going from room to room, pruning and weeding out all the unnecessary clutter?

A couple of years ago, Jennifer shared a lovely handout she received:

“Every day during Lent this year, empty one bag of ‘stuff’ that is no longer needed from your house, totaling a loss of forty bags of stuff!

1.) Taking a look at the size of your family and household, with an acknowledgement of how much ‘stuff’ is present, make a prudential choice on the size of bag to be employed during this challenge. Bag size should be small enough that the goal of 40 bags during the season of Lent is able to be accomplished, while not being too big that you are left with nothing. We must still live in the world, after all!

2.) If smaller children are a part of your family, a ‘gauge’ may be helpful to keep them engaged and help them keep track of progress. As part of your preparations, make a ‘paper chain’ of forty numbered links. As each new bag is started, place a new link in the bottom of the bag. This way, as the chain gets smaller, there is a greater sense of accomplishment.

3.) This challenge necessarily involves sacrifice. Each member of the family should be encouraged to give something to each bag, or there could be designated bags for each member of the family.

4.) Instead of just throwing things away, recycling is a great way to encourage good stewardship of the gifts we have been given, as it symbolizes that we are passing along our gifts to others. Families with children are encouraged to pass along clothes that no longer fit or toys that sit dormant in a closet to families in need instead of just throwing them away.

5.) Units of count need not necessarily be trash bags, either; however they should be equivalent. For example, a box of gently used toys or clothes could equate one bag off the chain. A stack of books donated to the parish library is another easy equivalent.

As the family accepts this challenge together, bonds will be created that will last a lifetime. Lessons are also learned not just by saying, but by putting it into practice. Here, the simple lesson will last throughout life that having fewer things can lead to a greater contentment in life.

(Credit due to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for this handout on vocations and family faith formation)”

This year, during the 40 days of Lent, I plan on accepting this challenge by tackling each room of my home and plan on taking out 40 bags– while both tossing out the junk and passing along gently used items to friends and family. (I’ve already armed myself with a 45 count box of trash bags!)

To help keep track of it all, instead of a paper chain as suggested, I’ve created a log to keep track of the areas that have been decluttered throughout my home.


You can keep your own log throughout Lent this year, too. Just click and print.

Won’t you join me on this challenge? Together we can encourage each other to spring clean our homes while spring cleaning  our hearts this Lent.

14 responses to “Keeping a Holy Lent :: 40 Bags in 40 Days (Printable)

  1. I love this idea! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. Great printable! I am also starting the 40 days challenge this week! I am hosting a link up party on my blog right now – feel free to link this post up here:


  3. Thank you Holly! This is what I need to do too! Thank you for helping me start off Lent in the right way fo me and for my family! May this also help us declutter our souls!

  4. Love this post! Live simply!! I don’t think we in our modern society know how to live simply! I de-cluttered my house a few years ago. It was a HUGE-HUGE cleanout! I didn’t realize I had that much stuff!! It does take sacrifice, but I felt so free afterward!!! I’ve had little cleanouts since, but maybe it’s time for another HUGE clean out! Stuff just collects! I need to de-stress. It sure helped last time! Thanks Holly! God Bless!

  5. I have done this challenge the last couple of years & it never ceases to amaze me how much I STILL have to get rid of! I just printed off your log…much prettier than the plain old piece of paper I’ve used in the past!

    BTW – I’ve left a blogger award for you on my blog. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your beautiful family.

  6. Holly, this is a great printable! I’m going to link this post with my other Lenten Resources.

  7. Pingback: Lent 2012 « Making Memories

  8. Reblogged this on My Lovely Blessed Life and commented:
    I’ve heard about the “40 Bags in 40 Days” before, but Holly on the “Three Sided Wheel” Blog made it look like something we could really do in our house.

  9. Holly, thanks so much for putting this together for us. I’ve made copies for our entire Diocesan Staff, and many friends — all of whom think it’s a great Lenten challenge!

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