I know I already posted these plans in a Daybook not too long ago, but I wanted to repost our plans here now that Lent is underway…that way you can “see” how our Lent looks.
1. Bury the Alleluia…we do it every year. We have these beautifully painted wooden letters that spell out the word. The day before Ash Wednesday, we sing it, we say it, we chant it…we get it out of our systems. Then we bury it and we fast from it. For those of you who don’t know…during Lent, as a Church, we do not say the word Alleluia. At all. Alleluia is meant to be an Easter word. And so for 40 days, we bury it and we don’t let it slip…then on Easter morning, there is much rejoicing as we reclaim the missing word…we are literally filled with joy as we proclaim Alleluia on Easter!
2. Stations of the Cross each Friday. Sometimes we use the DVD to pray the stations, sometimes we pray the stations that line our hallway, sometimes we visit the cemetery and the stations there. We almost always use the book The Story of the Cross to aid us in our devotions. However we do it, we make sure we do it because it is a deeply rooted tradition that allows us the opportunity to meditate on the Way of the Cross and really, is there any better devotion than that during Lent?
6. Our individual sacrifices. We don’t eat meat on Fridays…that’s called for by the Church, but considering the fact that my kids eat whatever is served to them, it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice over here (not even to Daxson or I, who usually eat fish on Fridays year-round), so I also ask each of the kids to give up something that’s a big deal for them for the duration of Lent…it could be as simple as juice with dinner or syrup with breakfast. I like it to be tangible, though. (When they make sacrifices like “I’m going to quit whining,” it’s a little hard for kids to “see” that and therefore, they tend to forget about their sacrifice over the course of Lent and they lose sight of the purpose of making a sacrifice…which, of course, is rooted in the idea that Jesus willingly sacrificed his life for us…surely, we can suffer a little during the 40 days of Lent in our own small ways in an effort to grow closer to Him.) Making these small sacrifices is actually a big deal in the spiritual life of children…it forces them to call to mind how incredibly blessed they are each time their sacrifice is repeated. Even though it feels small, to us who are overindulged and spoiled, the act of giving something up…anything, no matter how small, rewires our thinking and makes us grateful for all the many blessings in our life…even the small things in life…juice with dinner or syrup with breakfast. I also ask the older kids to make one positive change in their lives during Lent (this is a sacrifice, too! Changing habits is hard!)…this is usually a little more intangible…maybe to commit to exchanging a good habit for a bad habit or making a commitment to do something that makes them a better person (or a better brother or a better son, etc.).
A few other things I wanted to share: Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation. Since I have lots of littles, I’m a bit nontraditional in that I prefer to celebrate our Ash Wednesday as a family at home in our Domestic Church. We have a container of blessed ashes that we use each year and we follow the readings by using the MagnifiKid!
We also set our Lenten altar on Ash Wednesday. We replace our green ordinary time altar cloth with a purple cloth. We add the Station of the Cross tree and the Station of the Cross eggs to the altar. We place three big nails in the plain wreath (wrapped with a purple ribbon) and place a purple candle in the center. We keep our Bible and rosary box on the table and add a rosary mediation book. Last year Dad made us a beautiful Lenten cross that we fill with six purple candles and each week we light another candle (yep, just like our Advent wreath). I love this addition to our Lenten traditions.