Lent begins soon- are you ready?
As I was clicking around for ideas online, I became quickly overwhelmed by the number of links and posts of Lenten ideas. I realized that a woman can get herself into quite a tizzy trying to observe a season meant to slow us down. Doesn’t that seem a bit ironic?
I’m actually a little hesitant to share what we’re doing because I really don’t want to contribute to that feeling of there’s-so-much-to-do-how-will-we-ever-get-to-it-all that seems so contradictory to the purpose of Lent. I also hate to think that anything I post would make someone else feel like she isn’t doing enough. I feel that way sometimes when I’m reading blogs.
I’m posting our plans for a simple Lent because I’d like to record our family traditions and practices, but also because I think it’s helpful to see that you don’t have to do it all. I saw so many wonderful ideas as I was looking around the blogosphere. But you can’t do everything! I hope you’ll see my short list of Lenten practices and feel more comfortable making your own short, simple list of ways to live out the season.
1. Burying the Alleluia
This is a tradition my children learned when they were a part of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. On the first day of Lent, we roll up that beautiful Alleluia like a scroll, tie it with a purple ribbon, and tuck it away. As a Church, we don’t sing or say the word “Alleluia” for the duration of Lent. Alleluia is an Easter word! We put it away, so to speak, and when we reclaim it on Easter Sunday, how joyful it feels to let it roll off our tongues. After 40 days of quiet, we are practically bursting with Alleluia. :) Physically burying the word reminds us that joy always follows suffering. We must wait for it, but it will come. Alleluia!
(Here’s a link to a google doc with the Alleluia on it. Feel free to click over and print one.)
2. Marking the days
There are many ways to mark the 40 days of Lent. Usually, we mark them by printing a countdown for each child. Here’s the one we’ll be using in 2016.
3. Offering up sacrifices
Though we make it a habit every year to increase our sacrifices during Lent, this is the first year we will use a crown of thorns to help us. Each time a child makes a sacrifice or commits an act of charity, he or she will (as secretly as possible) pull a thorn from Christ’s crown. In this way, the children are reminded that when we love others, we lessen the suffering of Our Lord. By contrast, when we act uncharitably toward others, we contribute to the pain of the cross. How joyous it will be to see that crown, thornless on Easter Sunday. What a gift to give our Lord.
As a Church, we do not eat meat on Fridays. In addition, each of us gives up one thing we are attached to for these 40 days. Giving something up for Lent is not a trite practice. It helps us remember (every time we want that particular food or drink, or whatever else we have decided to give up!) that we are abundantly blessed. So blessed, that giving up something seemingly small can be rather difficult. What greater sacrifices is God calling us to make? How can we better ponder the incredible sacrifice He made for us?
4. Praying the Stations of the Cross
Meditating on the Way of Christ is one of Christianity’s oldest traditions. To help us really consider the sacrifice Jesus made for us, we will read from Mary Joslin’s The Story of the Cross each morning. We will also use these 3-part cards to help us remember each of the stations. The children will have time to work with these on their own.
5. Reading Aloud
Above all, just be.