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.
- a photograph of Micheangelo's Pieta found on Wikipedia Commons for the centerpiece during Lent
- Fra Angelico's Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb also at Wikipedia Commons
- Easter lilies from Vintage Images (I trimmed this image down in Photoshop to make the fifth copy of it at the bottom of the cross.)
- the words "He is risen! Alleluia!" at the very bottom
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
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?