I've been reflecting on Lent for the past week and how I am going to observe this time of penance, alms giving, and prayer. My thoughts then brought to mind the little souls with which we are entrusted as parents, grandparents, and God-parents.
Since my babies are all so young (1 - 5) I thought it would be best to help them in the 'doing' and praying category so I came up with the idea of teaching them all of the prayers of the Rosary (most of them know the Sign of the Cross, Our Father and Hail Mary but reinforcement is not a bad thing) and transition their regular nighttime prayers into reciting a decade while concentrating on a particular mystery each night.
Here's a simple and effective craft I came up with that combines reciting a nightly decade of the Rosary with some good actions and creativity thrown in for good measure:
- Plastic Easter Eggs (5 larger eggs for the Our Father and 53 smaller eggs for the Hail Mary)
- Colorful curling ribbon, dental floss or pipe cleaners
- Paper and markers/crayons
- Tongue depressors or Popsicle sticks
- Glitter glue, puff paint, stickers or other embellishments
- Hot glue gun or pipe cleaners
Lenten Rosary Project:
- Hot glue the small Easter eggs (top and bottom) onto small strips of ribbon or floss until you have a chain of 10.
- Alternatively you can cut small sections of pipe cleaners and thread them through the little holes at either end of the eggs.
- Chose a petition, good dead, or prayer for each member of the family and write/draw on a piece of paper. You could also have your little ones earn pennies to share with the poor.
- Place these papers or coins inside a plastic Easter egg.
- Add one larger Easter egg to your chain for the Our Father in each decade.
- Say one decade of the Rosary each evening using your chain and add your offerings for that day. This is a good time to discuss behavior, sharing and giving.
- If you do this for the 5 weekdays you will have enough chains to form 5 decades.
- On Saturday add the Our Father and 3 Hail Mary beads and assemble a cross using tongue depressor or Popsicle sticks and decorate.
- Assemble the entire Rosary (5 decades, Our Father & 3 Hail Mary's, and the Cross)
- Continue to recite one decade per day as you complete your craft.
- On Sunday draw or color pictures depicting the mysteries you have prayed during the week and make a booklet to go along with your newly completed Rosary.
You could now move on to coloring pages of the Stations of the Cross as your activity and reuse the Rosary you have made for praying a decade every evening as a family, as is now your practice.
Here are some links to coloring pages for the Rosary and Lent:
- A Lenten Journey coloring project from Catholic Icing: click here
- Hail Mary coloring activity sheet http://www.christiancoloring.com/cmpdf/gwahail.pdf
- Our Father sheet http://www.christiancoloring.com/cmpdf/our%20father%20boy.pdf
- Stations of the Cross for kids http://www.catholicmom.com/stations_booklet.pdf
Now that you have spent 28 days saying a decade per day and completing your Easter Egg Rosaries you can continue with the pattern through Lent (and beyond). Perhaps you could spend the rest of Lent using your new Rosaries and drawing or coloring pages with intentions, good
deeds, and sacrifices.
On the evening before Easter Sunday fill each egg with a treat or surprise and then hide your eggs for the traditional Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday. Or you could keep them intact and still fill with treats. Your kids will have had a chance to count down the 40 days and reap a reward for their patience and efforts, seeing a tangible result! Hopefully you will also have enhanced your family prayer habits.
God bless you...and have a fruitful Lent. Let us all pray for one another!
*Note: you could also do the above project using a paper chain much like those that are made during Advent to adorn your Christmas tree. Each 'link' in the chain could be a Hail Mary and a larger 'link' could be added for the Our Father. You could write on the slips of paper before creating the links.
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Now for adult Lenten sacrifices:
For me it's always been simple to choose the something to give up...there are so many blessings that we have in this land of abundance that I can usually think of too many things to part with.
This year my list is as follows:
1) Facebook games: I'm a Zuma addict and will not play this game for the entire Lenten season.
2) Facebook in general (do you see a theme here?) I will greatly reduce my Facebook usage to mostly religious and pro-life postings. Fridays will be a NO FACEBOOK day (something I started doing a couple of months ago).
3) My adult beverage of choice is wine...think I'll take a break ;-)
The DOING of something extra is another resolution for Lent. As an adult some of the ideas I have come up with for this year are:
1) Extra visits to the nursing home where Rick's 95 year old grandmother resides.
2) Completing one of my religious materials (I'm leaning toward the Salvation History with Scott Hahn CD and corresponding workbook).
3) Attending extra weekday Masses.
Then there's the alms giving. There are so many worthy causes that it will be difficult to chose but chose I will and it will probably have something to do with Haiti. This poorest of nations has a real need and is oftentimes forgotten. I know a priest who is well versed in helping a priest friend of his who is there 'in the trenches'...I think I'll give him a call.
I will also be linking to a few sites that I have found on the topic of Lent. There will be a variety of family friendly and adult links. There may be additions as I find them so feel free to check back:
- Jimmy Akin: Annual Lent Fight! http://www.ncregister.com/blog/annual-lent-fight/
- Many Little Blessings: Our Lenten Plans: http://www.manylittleblessings.com/2011/03/our-lenten-plans/