Last year I spent most of my time scouring the internet for ideas on how to bring the Lenten Season to life in our home. What happened was a major FAIL.
Besides making myself feel completely inadequate and lacking in my planning and organization skills, I was intimidated and froze. Too. Many. Ideas.
Ash Wednesday came and went, and I rationalized the thought that since I did not have my ‘act together’ at the start of Lent, I should just let it go (in true Elsa fashion) and wait till next year. NOT my greatest moment. BUT, I didn’t let this year pass me by. And, even though I didn’t have each activity planned and properly in place on Ash Wednesday, I sailed onward!
Below are just a few SIMPLE things I am doing this year to increase the penitential atmosphere around our house!
One of the most important things for my kiddos is having a ‘visual’ in order to understand a concept. I can talk to my three year old until I’m blue in the face about Jesus’ suffering and death, but the minute he sees a picture of Christ crucified, he GETS it! He may not completely understand all of the details nor the meaning of alms giving and fasting, but to me, if he gets the MOST important part of Lent, then it’s a success.
We have a large dresser in our living room which is adorned with our Lenten altar. It’s simple, yet beautiful and truly helps our family focus on our Lord’s passion and death. I primarily used the colors red (blood) and purple (penance and royal dignity) and created a mini-Calvary scene. It has turned out to be a helpful exposition of the meaning of Lent.
One of the many ideas on my Lent Pinterest board from last year was this cross. Again, this is another fantastic image for the kids to encounter daily, during Lent. The idea is to offer small ‘sacrifices’ throughout the day, to our Lord, and place a flower on the cross each time you do. The kids LOVE it! I made the cross with brown card stock and taped it to their bedroom door. Then I punched out some colorful flowers to represent their sacrifices. Hopefully, once Easter comes, it will be full of sacrifices for our Lord. My oldest daughter (6 years) has really taken a liking to this activity. She actually goes into her room, throughout the day, to pray a decade of the Rosary! What a blessing and beautiful example she is!!
Burying the Alleluia
This idea can be found many places on the internet. You can check it out here. Another blog I had seen previously, which I cannot find at this time, explained about this tradition with the following excerpt from, Around the Year with the TRAPP FAMILY.
“In medieval times they used to “bury the Alleluia” solemnly in the cathedral and in the abbey churches. This custom was nearly forgotten, but we came across it again on the happy day when we were privileged to celebrate Holy Mass in the creative and inspired parish of our friend, Monsignor Martin Hellriegel. There, in a solemn procession, the school children carried a wooden tablet on which was engraved the word “Alleluia” through the main aisle of the church over to the altar of the Blessed Mother where they put it at her feet and covered it with a purple cloth. There it would remain until Easter, when, in a triumphant tone of voice, the priest would intone, for the first time after forty days, a three-fold Alleluia.”
This quote immediately grabbed my attention. I love me some TRADITION and couldn’t wait to incorporate it into our family’s Lenten traditions.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of the kids burying their Alleluias but it was super simple and fun! I bought some unfinished wooden plaques from Hobby Lobby and wrote the word Alleluia on them with a marker. Easy. Peasy. The kids then decorated them before we headed into the dark backyard, green Ikea lanterns in hand, to dig and bury our Alleluias. They had a blast. We stood by the ‘grave,’ prayed, then headed in for bedtime.
In addition to these practices, we also celebrate the few feast days we have during Lent (St. Joseph, St. Patrick, and The Annunciation), read/study the Stations of the Cross, and veil our statues and crucifixes staring on Passion Sunday (the beginning of Passiontide) in preparation for Holy Week and Easter.
I love my Catholic faith and hope to embed it into my Domestic Church so that my kiddos grow to learn, know, and LOVE their beautiful faith, too!