Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Lenten Season In Our Catholic Home


Lord, Who throughout these forty days,
For us didst fast and pray,
Teach us with Thee to mourn our sins, 
And close by Thee to stay...


Over the years our family has adopted and established many Lenten traditions with our children.  I spent a little time this afternoon finalizing our plans for this Lenten season and have compiled them here to share, including links to the original sources of our inspiration. May you all have a blessed and fruitful Lenten season!  (Note: This post contains affiliate links.)


Shrove Tuesday 

Shrove Tuesday is a day of preparation for Lent. The name “shrove” comes from the word "shrive" which means “to confess.”  The Church recommends that we receive the Sacrament of Penance frequently and once a year at the every least.  Our family will be going again soon so that we can begin Lent with clear consciences and clean souls.

  • Bury the Alleluia until Easter Sunday!

I am not sure where this tradition originated, but I have read that "In medieval times, in order to signify that the Alleluia was no longer to be sung at Mass from Ash Wednesday to the great Vigil of Easter, people developed the ceremony of "burying the Alleluia". It typically consisted of putting a scroll with the word "Alleluia" on it inside a coffin and actually digging up a grave in the church lot and throwing it in, where it would rest until retrieved in another ceremony on Easter."  Instead of a scroll our family has always used wooden letters (painted gold by the some of the children when they were younger) inspired by Elizabeth Foss.  We pack bury them in a box for Lent and they will be unpacked unburied and placed on our mantle Easter morning


Ash Wednesday (Day of Fast and Abstinence)


Daily During Lent: Pray • Fast • Give Alms




We have always loved using the Jesus Tree as a Lenten bible study for our children.  Each day during Lent we read a story about an event or teaching during Jesus' life and add a corresponding ornament to the tree. At first, the dead branch (tree) symbolizes the barren and lifeless feeling of the Lenten season as we reflect on our own sinfulness and the crucifixion of our Lord. As the season climaxes with Easter, we see the gift Christ gave us through His death and Resurrection. The beauty of that new life is reflected in the way the dead branch has "blossomed" with all the symbols of Christ's life and teachings.

{NOTE: I'm working on compiling a booklet with the list of coordinating readings I came up with years ago using our New Catholic Picture Bible.  You can find the current list in full here, though many of the coloring page links no longer work. I'm currently working on updating those links as well.  I'll be sure to update this post with the links to any new/updated posts once they are completed.}


  • Lenten Sacrifice Beans

This tradition of ours is inspired by Mary Reed Newland in her book The Year and Our Children. She says, "It is hard to keep track of this treasure that is laid in Heaven if you are quite small and six weeks drag out like six years. We have made this part of the effort visible for the children so that they might see that they were accomplishing something. On or about Ash Wednesday, we dye lima beans purple to be used as counters in a jar. Beans, because they are seeds which, if put in the ground, appear to die only to spring forth with new life. This is what Our Lord said we must do if we would have life in Him. He that seems to lose his life shall gain it. The beans remind us that daily death to self in one self-denial after another is the dying which will find for us new life in Him." On Easter Sunday the children wake up to discover that all the Lenten Sacrifice Beans have been replaced with Jelly Beans! 

Update: You can see our jar filled with Jelly Beans on Easter Sunday here

    • Lenten Crown of Thorns

    A great motivating tool during Lent is the Lenten Crown of Thorns. Create a Crown of Thorns as a Lenten centerpiece for your table using a grapevine wreath (crown) and inserting toothpicks (thorns) to represent the many pains and sufferings Our Lord endured for our salvation. Both children and adults will be encouraged to persevere with their Lenten penances as they remove a thorn for each good deed and sacrifice offered.  This tradition was inspired by Waltzing Matilda.


    Additional Lenten Activities



    Sometime during Lent we will create a Paschal Candle for Easter Morning. You can purchase a Paschal Candle Kit from Illuminated Ink (like the one we made here). Or create your own using the directions found here: Paschal Candle for Easter. Place the candle in the center of your Crown of Thorns centerpiece (see Daily During Lent), replacing all the thorns with flowers!


    Fridays During Lent

    Crafting our Stations of the Cross - kit from Illuminated Ink (also available at Amazon and from Catholic Child!)

    Some excellent resources for praying the Stations of the Cross at Home with Children include The Stations of the Cross for Children (Glory Stories), The Way of the Cross for Children DVD, and Praying the Way of the Cross (featuring Liam Neeson).  We also have an assortment of books and coloring books for the children as well.  Jesse Tree Treasures also carries a lovely set of Stations of the Cross Ornaments




    Spring Cleaning
    • De-clutter, simplify, organize and clean!

    Past posts include: Spring Cleaning ~ The Goal (2008), Lenten Cleaning (2009), 40 Bags of Stuff (2009), 40 Bags in 40 Days and Update (2010) and Shaking off the Bonds of Stuff :: A 40-Day Plan for Lent (2012). 


    Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday) 


    Passion Sunday (5th Sunday) 


    *Note: Now that our children our getting older, the Holy Thursday and Good Friday Teas (originally inspired by Alice Gunther) are a little too much "fun" for our family for Holy Week which is one of the reasons we omitted them last year. We have loved doing them in the past so I've decided to move them to the two Sundays prior to Holy Week - Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday - that way we can use them as a teaching tool for the rest of our little ones and I can still spend as little time as possible in the kitchen (and hopefully more time at Church) during Holy Week.  UPDATE: We ended up leaving our Lenten Dinners during Holy Week this year after all.


    Palm Sunday (6th Sunday) 



    Palm Sunday is also known as "Fig Sunday" due to the tradition that Christ ate figs following his entry into Jerusalem. Celebrate Our Lord’s glorious entrance into Jerusalem by enjoying some fresh figs or Fig Newtons today. Another option is to serve Palm Sundaes (Ice Cream Sundaes topped with whipped cream, chocolate syrup and shredded coconut – since coconuts grow on Palm Trees) for dessert.


    Holy Thursday 

    Look at His adorable face. Look at His glazed and sunken eyes. Look at His wounds. Look Jesus in the Face. There, you will see how He loves us. ~ St. Therese of Lisieux


    Good Friday (Day of Fast and Abstinence)




    Holy Saturday 


    Other Past Posts for Lent




    To suffer lovingly is to suffer no longer. To flee from the cross is to be crushed beneath its weight. We should pray for a love of the cross - then it will become sweet. ~ St John Vianney