Monday, February 2, 2009
I won't do all of these, but these are some of my favorite ideas.
1. Walking with Jesus, explained here. I'll do a new poster with this year's Gospels.
2. Eat pretzels instead of cookies and dried fruit ("God's candy") instead of candy. This was Leena's idea
3. Invite the kids to donate some allowance to Loving Heart Home, a place for dying orphans in China.
4. Eat only bread without yeast (Zorg's idea).
5. Study the capital sins and their opposite virtues, one of each every week.
6. Sacrifice bean jar. (Klenda's idea) One bean for each sacrifice and on Easter they are replaced with jelly beans to show that Jesus' sacrifice makes our sacrifices sweet.
7. The vine and branches poster. Basically it's a 7 foot tall vine cut out of brown paper with branches for each member of the family. We cut out tons of leaves and grapes and put them in a basket. Whenever anyone sees someone doing something good, they put a leaf or fruit on that person's branch. On Easter we decorate the vine with Easter lilies. We often put a picture of Jesus and the "vine and branches" quote on the vine.
8. Lent Calender - like an Advent calender, but shaped liked a 3D Noah's Ark and going through salvation history with pictures, prayers and scripture reflections. I got it here. I also got a 50 day Easter sticker calender from them here. That one is usually $20 and is on sale for $3.
9. A Christian Seder. My dad was Jewish and I went to seders when I was growing up. I was always amazed at how similar it is to the Mass...well..the Mass is the Last Supper and the Last Supper was a seder. You can find lots of free Christian haggadahs (passover booklets) online. We modified one to make it short enough for the little ones to get through.
10. The Lenten Cross. This is made of 40 squares of light purple paper. You do a scripture reading, have a kid draw a representation of the reading on a square, and then tape the square to a wall. By Easter you have a large cross representing Salvation History. We've done this several times and the kids loved it. You can find the readings and more info here.
11. More lists of ideas here, here and here.
My problem is that all these ideas look great, but I've seen over and over that if I try to do too many, I lose focus and stop 20 days in.
So, how do I decide? Pray, see what we are attracted to, look at what my kids needs are, and analyze what each activity would accomplish. The three traditional Lenten activities are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Most important to me is that my kids experience a living encounter with Christ. That, for me, seems to require an immersive, indelible experience of salvation history (so they know who Jesus is) combined with communal and private prayer experiences tailored to their developmental levels. It's also important that they see themselves as part of the Body of Christ, the Church, so we will be doing as many of the beautiful Lenten liturgies as we can.
I'll probably do 2, 3, 4 (those 3 don't take time), a combination of 1 and 7 (if I can make it simple to follow through), 8, and 9 (if I can get Angel to do it with me!) and I need to think about how to provide meaningful prayer experiences.