Monday, February 2, 2015

Lenten Cross for the Range

Last year, I was a little disappointed in our Lenten readings and wanted something different. Inspired by the success of our Jesse Tree, I decided to make a Lenten cross as found in Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church: Activities to Celebrate Catholic Liturgical Seasons by Catherine and Peter Fournier. Like for the Jesse Tree, the Fourniers selected Scripture passages for the forty days of Lent (not counting Sundays). They give lots of options for making a Lenten cross including pictures for each of the days. Personally, I find some of the Jesse Tree images a little difficult to connect to the readings. I also wanted something more unified and pretty (maybe even beautiful?) in Lent as well as Easter.

I spent a long time considering and pondering and wondering about this cross: what materials to use and how to attach them. I really wanted to be able to flip from one side to another as the season progressed but struggled to decide what would be on each side. I especially wanted something beautiful for the Easter season. I finally mentioned it to Kansas Dad. At first, he listened and claimed he had no advice to give me, but before too long he suggested Easter lilies. That man is a genius in addition to being so good-looking.

Then I spent hours (it's a little embarrassing how much time I put into this little project) browsing online to find copyright free images I could print and place just perfectly to form the cross. I had purchased a foam board during the back-to-school sales and was determined to use it, so the dimensions were a constraint.
In the end, I'm really pleased with it. The first picture shows how it will look during the Easter season (for as long as I leave it up). The second picture shows how it will look during the season of Lent. On each card, I've put a small cross, the day number, the Scripture reference, and the title or theme of the reading. (All of these can be found in Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church: Activities to Celebrate Catholic Liturgical Seasons. Please note, if you have an old version of this book like I do, Day 13 should be Jericho not Moses again. You can find the correct information on the author's website or, presumably, in the newer edition of the book.) 

If you want to make your own Lenten cross and choose to make it the same size as mine, you can use the PDF I made of these images and shared on Google Docs. (It would be so kind of you to link back here if you post pictures on your blog or Facebook or Pinterest or other such places.)

It took me about two hours to complete the cross once I had all the materials in front of me, including writing the Scripture references, laminating the cards, cutting them out, placing them on the foam board (which involved some problem-solving when my tacky was defunct). Hopefully with my suggestions, you could get the time to just over an hour. Here's what you need:
  • foam board or background (mine was 20"x30")
  • purple construction paper (Hobby Lobby sells nice packages of single colors.)
  • a cross punch (I bought this one at Hobby Lobby for about $6 on sale and intend to use it for First Communion as well...somehow.)
  • a fine tip Sharpie marker (I used black.)
  • printer paper for the Scripture side of the card (I used cardstock, but recommend paper. A light purple might be nice.)
  • your images (or print mine on white cardstock)
  • a paper cutter or scissors
  • glue or double-stick tape (to hold the materials together until you laminate them)
  • a laminator (I have this one.)
  • laminating sheets (I usually purchase these at a superstore.) 
  • Tacky or sticky tabs to attach the cards to the foam board so they can be flipped and reattached
1. First I cut the cards for the Scripture side. If your foam board is the same as mine, the cards can be 2" square. I did not take into account the extra space for the laminated edge, so my cards go a little off the top and sides. I used white cardstock for the Scripture side in addition to the image side, but two layers of cardstock was a little much for the laminator. I used plain printer paper for a few at the end and those worked better. (Another option would be to write directly on the back of your images, but I was worried the marker would bleed through. Also, I messed up a few times and it was very easy to grab another plain 2" square rather than reprinting the image.)

2. I punched a large pile of crosses out of the construction paper, then used a tiny bit of glue to put them in the upper left hand corner of the cards. I just needed them to stay in place long enough to be laminated.

3. Using the fine tip Sharpie, I wrote the day number at the top. (I highly recommend having the number so they're easy to line up properly every year.) The Scripture reference is key as well, so you don't have to look it up every day. I wrote a title for it as well. As I mentioned above, these are all found in Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church: Activities to Celebrate Catholic Liturgical Seasons but make sure you have Jericho for Day 13. (You may be able to see in the picture that I realized the error later.)

4. Line up all the Scripture cards on the cross in the order you want to flip them. For 2" square cards, you'll need 8 squares for the top and sides (each) and 16 squares for the bottom. When we read our Scripture, we'll read the four on the top of the left side beam and then read the four on the bottom of the same side before moving to the right side beam.

5. Use the paper cutter to cut the first image. Again, you'll want 2" square (or whatever will exactly match your Scripture cards). No matter how carefully I thought I had cut my squares, they didn't match completely when I paired them up. Life goes on.

6. After you cut the image, carefully flip the Scripture cards for the appropriate rectangle, then set your image cards down so they match up to form the image. (So the top left of your flower image is on the back of day 1, etc.) You want the image to make sense when you flip the cards day by day.

7. Repeat the process for each of the other five images.

8. Use a dot of glue or a bit of double-stick tape to keep your image and Scripture cards lined up as nicely as possible. Place each one in your laminating sheet. I put nine on each sheet.

9. Run the cards through the laminator (using all the usual precautions here).

10. Cut the cards. As I mentioned earlier, mine were too thick so sometimes I had to cut where I could see they hadn't sealed completely. I used some clear tape to seal them.

11. Attach the cards to your foam board. Here's where I ran into problems. I had some poster tacky stuff in my stash but found it all dried up. Instead, I used a sample of reusable poster stickers like these. I think something similar might work, but I had so few in my sample package I had to cut them quite small and they won't work as they are for all of Lent and Easter. I'm thinking of trying something like this. Even if it only lasted one year, the cost would not be excessive to place new tabs each year.

Your Lenten cross does not have to look like this one. My friend, Monica, shared a picture of hers a few years ago.

You can read more about some of our other Lenten plans in my post from 2013. We'll definitely have our flower prayer garden and bean jars again. The flower garden in particular is one of my favorite Lenten practices. (The kids' favorite tradition is ice cream sundaes for dinner on Fat Tuesday.)

Ash Wednesday is February 18th so you have a little time yet to think about what you'd like to do with your family. Any favorite traditions to share? Does anyone else have a Lenten cross?


  1. Very cool. We tried the Lenten Cross Readings (from that book) maybe 3-4 years ago and it was too above the kids. I almost got rid of our things (and I spent HOURS on them) because I have trouble looking into the future and realizing my kids will mature. I am so.glad. I hung onto it because we did it last year and love love LOVED it! I went through and split the readings about 1/2 and 1/2 between our Children's Bible and the RSV and that seemed to be a really good fit, I am sure I will alter it as the kids get older but planning on using the same setup this year. You can find a picture of ours on this post if you scroll down, I just used their symbols.
    I agree, some of them are realllllly vague and I can't even figure them out, but for the most part they work and I spent so much time on it I am not really ready to do it again. It seems I caught the correction you mentioned, but I will have to double check this year.

    I have our flowers printed and am about 1/2 way through putting intentions on them for our prayer garden. Hoping to recruit Gemma to help me cut. ;-)

    Still debating how to handle alms this year, thinking of having the kids do extra chores to earn alms? Maybe?? That has evolved every year, and they are getting a little old for the counting items and putting that many coins in I think. I think? What do you guys do?

    I am glad though, now that they are older, fasting activities as a family are much easier to navigate.

    1. We haven't counted for our alms in a few years. The past few years, we've used the time in Lent to think about how they're going to share the money in their charity jars. (We have separate jars for a church tithe and a charity.) The kids choose how to spend their charity money. I think chores might work for earning money for alms but I haven't really thought much about it. Though I know Lent is a time of almsgiving, we make it such a part of the whole year that finding more room in the budget is difficult and I admit I haven't put enough effort into it.

      I'm glad you didn't get rid of it, too! My oldest is 11 now and he and the 8 year old show a great interest in actual Scripture now (at home, at least, if not always at Mass), so the Jesse Tree and the Lenten cross are good additions to our prayer time. The little ones can listen, but it's hard if they are all little!

  2. For now all our kids' charity money just goes in their "give" jars. They mostly give it to church and occasionally Gemma will get a hug to give it to the hungry or babies or something. We'll see what we come up with this year.

    Do you guys have your kids split gift money between their jars or how do you handle that? My kids for now just put 10% of their allowance and then any money they earn (ie the neighbor has them help pick up sweet gum balls from her yard and paid them). Gemma is my generous one though and will often get money from her spend jar to give to charity.

    1. We tried splitting gift money, but in the end decided it wasn't worth the hassle. Their allowance is divided between spend, save, church tithe, and charity at predetermined amounts. Any gifts or extra money they receive just goes into their spend pool.

    2. That's the way we have been doing it. If it is a big gift like the $50 from grandparents for bday it all goes in the bank for now. When they get older I may change that policy...

  3. And yeesh! Thanks for the shout out. Can you tell who didn't read all the way to the end the first time haha. But anyways the link I linked does have my more updates board and all the symbols.

  4. I'm glad you added that link. I was looking for that picture for my post but couldn't find it. You'd think the search this blog would work better considering Google runs Blogger.


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