|St. Athanasius, our family's patron saint|
With that in mind, I have carefully considered our past Lenten activities, expanded a few a bit and added a few. Please keep in mind a few things as you read this post.
1. I do not have a newborn or a needy infant. I am not pregnant. These plans would have been far beyond what I could handle the past couple of years.
2. The readings listed below will take place during our normal school hours. They are in addition to what we are doing for our lessons, but they will add no more than 15-20 minutes a day and will flow with our existing schedule.
3. These activities have developed over the past two or three years. I would not recommend trying to do all of them for the first time together. It's always necessary to balance the daily needs of your children and your home or work life with your desires in celebrating the liturgical year.
Our Fast, Prayer, and Alms Calendar is a newly revised and more ambitious edition of last year's calendar (which was originally inspired by Monica). This year I've written a plan for each day of Lent, excluding Sundays.
2012 Lenten Calendar
Each day we'll:
|our book of Lenten prayers|
Pray for someone or a group of people like priests, godparents, our parish, etc. I've typed up a few prayers we know and a few new ones. I like the prayer die Monica made, but until we have one of our own, we're going to use a regular die with a number assigned to each prayer. We'll add this prayer during our evening prayer time, reciting one prayer with for our special intention.
|flowers ready for the prayer garden|
|prayer garden, ready for flowers|
Alms for the poor. Each day we'll count something in our house and put a penny for each one in the alms jar. Our children are still young (8, 5, 3 and 1), so this year Kansas Dad and I will provide the money and decide where it will go, but as they grow, they will be expected to take a greater role in contributing and deciding. Our alms jar is one I made last year. It's a large container of peanuts (emptied, of course). I covered it in black construction paper and made a few designs on it with colored chalk. It has held up well but eventually I'd like to replace it with one the children design.
Stations of the Cross with The Way of the Cross for Children each Friday. This link is for a package of ten. Your local Catholic bookstore will have individual copies for sale. I have three or four so children can each hold one of their own. A year or two ago, I copied the stations from Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church (which is encouraged in the book). The children colored them and I laminated them. I'll have to find a new place to hang them, though, as last year's spots are taken by the timeline now. I find it much more manageable to read the Stations at home than to try to take my children to church, but we will try to make it out for Stations at least once during Lent. I also the printed the Stations of the Cross cards here, laminated them, and will encourage the children to use them to order the Stations themselves.
Some Lenten reading with the children:
Celebrating Lent (This link is also for a package of ten, but a local bookstore will have single copies available.) I found this book incredibly useful when trying to explain Lent to First Son when he was in kindergarten. We read just two pages of text each week during Lent each year.
Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls by Caryll Houselander. As recommended at Mater Amabilis, we'll read one story twice a week during Lent.
Jesus: His Life in Verses from the King James Holy Bible, illustrated by Gennady Spirin - We'll be reading this during Holy Week
Benjamin's Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs by Melody Carlson and Resurrection Eggs. My children lost the chalice from our set and I haven't replaced it yet. I plan to read this during Holy Week so I still have some time.
Petook: An Easter Story by Caryll Houselander, illustrated by Tomie dePaola, which I always read to the children around the time of Holy Week.
The Easter Story, illustrated by Brian Wildsmith, with a guide from the wonderful people who brought us Catholic Mosaic (Hillside does not sell The Easter Story or I would have linked to their site.) I absolutely love Brian Wildsmith's illustrations.
We'll be taking most of Holy Thursday and Good Friday to focus on our Lenten prayers and activities. If I'm feeling ambitious, we'll try making some paper mache eggs (Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church).
Resurrection Cookies - I've never made these before, but they look pretty simple, so I thought we'd give them a try.
During the Easter season, First Son and I will be reading The Way of the Cross: A Story of Padre Pio by Clare Jordan Mohan.
I have a few plans that don't include the children as well:
- Kansas Dad and I are giving up Netflix and television online (other than the movies we're watching for our class). This one will be hard as we have a habit of watching one show together each night, but we'll be reading or playing games instead. (And we always take Sundays off from our fasts; that's just how we do Lent on the Range.)
- Reading The Imitation of Christ. I read this years ago and thought then it would make for wonderful Lenten reading. This year, I'm going to try it.
- Lenten cleaning - I tried this for the first time last year. I selected a room of the house for each week of Lent and will make a concerted effort to clean and organize it deeply, taking care of all the little things I let go during the rest of the year. If done thoughtfully, it can be a good metaphor for the cleaning we do of our souls during this time. It's not one of those 40 bags for 40 days programs; I'm not trying to get rid of things (unless necessary). Just deep cleaning.
Lent doesn't start until February 22nd, so you still have time to make some plans. What will your family be doing to prepare for Easter?