Blessed Ash Wednesday everyone!
I'm so glad Lent is here? Is that weird?
We haven't done a whole lot of liturgical year activities here since Tess has been born, and I'm looking forward to a productive Lent. Here's what's going on this year...
---The picture up above is from last year. My camera is still not fixed. Long story. Anyway, on the altar you can see the sacrifice jars on the left. We had little folded up papers for the kids to pick from each night. Each one had a sacrifice or good deed to be done the following day. Then they could remove a thorn from the crown. This year, though, the kids really missed the jelly bean jars we did a couple of years ago. So, I'm going to have the crown of thorns and the jelly bean jars. Instead of the sacrifice jars, I'm going to let them pick what they want to do off of the list of ideas I usually cut up and put in the jars, or they can come up with their own ideas. For each sacrifice they can pull a thorn from the crown and for each good deed they can put a jelly bean in their jars.
---If you aren't familiar with the jelly bean jars, here's how they work. They try to earn jelly beans to fill up their jars over the 40 days of Lent. After they are in bed on Holy Saturday night, I fill up the rest of the jar with white jelly beans. The white jelly beans represent Christ's grace, which we cannot earn and which fills us up where we fall short. Oh..and then then get to eat the jelly beans. :)
--If you aren't familiar with the crown of thorns...this is a braided salt dough crown with toothpicks pushed into the dough before baking. The idea is that the toothpicks will be gone by Easter Sunday. Then we decorate the crown with flowers and leave it up for the rest of Easter season.
--We will put the pot of dirt on our altar again. That was a hit last year. You can see it in the picture there. It's actually a glass bowl, not a pot, with a votive candle in the middle of it. We burn our palm branches from Palm Sunday of last year and mix the ashes with some dirt in the bowl. We use the candle in it as our prayer candle during Lent. On this coming Palm Sunday, we mix some seeds in the dirt and start watering. By Easter, there should be sprouting...new life! And by the time the Easter season is over there should be lots of growth. Last year we used grass seed because it sprouts and grows quickly, even indoors. It isn't very pretty though. I'd like to use something else this year but I'm not sure what...any ideas? Maybe a lily bulb?
--We are trying a couple of new things this year. First, a custom called "burying the Alleluia". In our Catholic masses, for those that don't know (do other denominations do this? I guess some probably do.) we do not sing the Alleluia at all during Lent. Then at the Easter masses we sing a very jubilant and loud Alleluia. So, at home, there has developed this tradition. It can be done in lots of different ways...basically, you have the word "Alleluia" on a banner or plaque or, like we are doing, individual wooden letters from the craft store that spell out "Alleluia". The you stash your "Alleluia" for Lent. You can actually bury it, hide it, whatever...we will wrap ours on a plain box and leave it on the altar. During Lent, I will sneak into the box and paint and bling up the letters and then put them back in the box. The plan right now is that when I hide the Easter eggs. I will also hide the Alleluia box and let the kids find it and put out the pretty letters inside to display on the altar for the Easter season.
--Oh, one more thing...I read about this on catholicculture.org. I've always wanted to pray the stations of the cross at home during Lent. It's very difficult for me to go to them at church. John is almost always working on Fridays, and to go by myself to something so solemn with all four kids...yikes. So, I bought this book last year. This year we will do them here. To make it more special, I made a candelabra of sorts. It's nothing fancy at all, but the kids are impressed. It's basically a couple of Styrofoam blocks wrapped in purple tissue paper with seven white taper candles pushed into each block. The website gives some suggestions for fancier ones. Maybe I can make a nicer one for next year. Anyway, you are supposed to light all 14 candles when you start, and at each station you snuff out one candle. When Jesus is put in the tomb, the last station, the room is in darkness.
I wish my camera was working! I will be taking pictures with my "old school" camera and have them put on a disk next week. But it's not the same!
Ok, I'm off to get our day underway...mass at noon today, and lots of preparations to finish!