Pope Paul VI in 1969 reminded us in his introduction to the revised liturgical calendar that the season of Lent/Easter is a special time of the year and exerts much influence upon us which can lead to a deepening of our faith if we make use of it. The following are some activities that you may find helpful as you participative with your family (especially with young children) in observing these special 40 days.
Many think of pretzels as the perfect snack with beer. Or maybe you like pretzels because they are a fat-free snack. But the pretzel traditionally was Lenten fare. It was made only of flour, water and salt. It reminds us, today, that in times past Catholics fasted from milk, butter, eggs, cheese, cream and meat. The pretzel is shaped into the form of arms crossed in prayer. Serve them often during Lent and use them as a springboard for discussing prayer and fasting during this special season.
Eileen Akers, active in diocesan family issues, gave us two other ideas: Plant an amaryllis bulb during Lent and compare what happens to the bulb with what happens to each one of us as we increase our good deeds, sacrifices and reception of the sacraments. Point out there is much going on under the dirt that the children cant see. In our souls much is going on during Lent that we cannot see. In about six weeks time the bulb is marvelously transformed into a beautiful flower; so too, in each childs soul the sacrifices, etc., that he has performed during Lent are used by Jesus to transform his soul in holiness.
Another idea is to fill a paper bag with slips of paper. On each paper are written a good deed, a sacrifice or a prayer to be performed. Every day each child draws out a new slip of paper. This activity provides real variety and keeps boredom from setting in.
The Stations of the Cross is a devotion we found difficult to attend when our children were very young. To remedy the situation I bought two copies of the same coloring book on the Stations of the Cross from the Daughters of St. Paul and had all four of our children color the 14 stations. We put them up in our kitchen, almost like a border, and on Friday evenings we said them at home as a family. When Easter arrived we added a colored picture of the Resurrection and viewed Christ's triumph during Easter Week.
One of my favorite activities during Holy Week or the week before is to make bread dough with our children. These crucifixes are baked, painted, and sprayed with shellac. They can be hung up throughout the home or given as gifts.
Fran van de Voorde, from Holy Family Parish, has a few ideas to keep our focus on the cross and the resurrection. She makes small foam crosses for her children. You get the thin construction-size sheets of foam from most craft stores. She chose purple for her Good Friday crosses. With gold puff paint she wrote on it: He died for me. Fran gave each of her children a purple cross on Good Friday morning to keep with them all day long as a reminder of Jesus' sacrifice. She made Easter crosses on white foam and wrote with gold puff paint: He is risen. An Easter cross was put in each childs Easter basket along with a fabric lily and Easter goodies.
Some of you might enjoy making candy for the childrens Easter baskets. Many of the party stores, craft shops and fabric stores carry plastic candy molds. Of course the Easter bunny is popular, but the lamb is actually the symbol for Christ. Last year I went ahead and bought lamb lollipop molds and made white chocolate lamb pops. My children told me they preferred chocolate to white chocolate. This year most of the lollipops will be dark chocolate in the form of baskets, but a few for decoration will be white. For the last couple of years I have taken the childrens' Easter baskets to be blessed along with the bread for our Easter meal on Holy Saturday. Msgr. Cilinski at Our Lady of Angels has a blessing specifically for the childrens Easter baskets. Butter in the form of a lamb may also be made from another type of small plastic mold. It is a very attractive decoration on our Easter tables and easy to make.
We are blessed with many good Catholic bookstores in the Diocese of Arlington. I have included just a few ideas of what might be done with our children during the Lenten season. There are a number of good books and pamphlets on activities for children during Lent. It is worth a trip to the bookstore to view them.
May God bless all your undertakings with your children during Lent and a very happy Easter to your families.
Rooney, Coleen. Activities for Lent. Arlington Catholic Herald (February 17, 1997).
Reprinted with permission of The Arlington Catholic Herald.
The AuthorCopyright © 1997 Arlington Catholic Herald
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