Today begins the season of Lent, forty-six days of prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Like last year, I will do my very best at spending the seven weeks pouring the true spirit of Easter into the little’s sweet hearts and young minds.
We will conduct readings using this guide with a passage and a symbol for each day. Since I’ve yet to gather up real ornaments, we will draw the symbol for each day on an index card. We’ll be traveling for a couple of weeks during Lent so I also downloaded the free Bible for my Kindle today (with a great, hyperlinked Table of Contents to boot!) I’m super excited about how easy that will make it to keep up without lugging around our gigantic family Bible.
To aid in teaching the littles to do works of mercy and good deeds, we make construction paper crosses that say “John/Whit helps Jesus carry his cross.” Whenever an act of kindness is completed, a sticker gets added to the cross, in hopes of filling it by Easter. Last year it became a suppertime ritual do discuss what types of good deeds and acts of kindness we performed or experienced during the day. John earned his first sticker for “Telling M in my class what a good reader she is. Because she is really the best at reading.”
While we fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstain on all Fridays during Lent, fasting also includes sacrifice and self denial. We make a Crown of Thorns to use as a visual reminder of Christ’s suffering. Each time a family member makes a sacrifice during Lent, he will get to pull a toothpick out of the crown. The goal is to remove all of the “thorns” from the crown by Easter. It’s an easy salt dough recipe that the littles will love helping make.
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
Water (I used about 1 3/4 cup warm water)
– Mix flour and salt with enough water to make it clay-like. Knead until smooth to remove air bubbles. Divide into three balls and roll each ball into a long rope. Loosely braid ropes (which is not easy) and form braid into a circle. Stick toothpicks loosely throughout the crown. Bake at 350 for one hour, or until dry and light brown.
It’s become a curious practice for me to brave Ash Wednesday mass alone with the littles in tow. It was just as harrowing of an experience tonight as it’s been the last three years. We added not one, not two, but THREE trips to the potty to the usual antics. And with that, I’m removing the first thorn from our crown. I darn well earned it.