Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ash Wednesday and the Holy Season of Lent 2011

 Ash Wednesday Pictures, Images and Photos 
It's hard to believe that Lent is here with the first day of Lent starting tomorrow with Ash Wednesday.  What is the significance of putting ashes on one's forehead to start the Lenten season?  Below is a quote from an article on About.com 
A Day of Repentance:
The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance. The ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness, and many Catholics leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.

In this article, Ash Wednesday Our Shifting Understanding of Lent, it states the following:
When we receive ashes on our foreheads, we remember who we are. We remember that we are creatures of the earth ("Remember that you are dust"). We remember that we are mortal beings ("and to dust you will return"). We remember that we are baptized. We remember that we are people on a journey of conversion ("Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel"). We remember that we are members of the body of Christ (and that smudge on our foreheads will proclaim that identity to others, too).

Here is a great 2 minute video about Ash Wednesday:

Our family will attend an Ash Wednesday Mass to help us remember that, like the Advent season, Lent is also a time of preparation and a call to conversion.  It's funny to have people tell me that I have "dirt" on my forehead after we attend Ash Wednesday Mass.  When this is said to me, it gives me a great opportunity to share my faith.  Here is an Ash Wednesday coloring page from Lisa at CatholicMom .

Here are some other Lenten traditions that we do as a family:

Salt Dough Crown of Thorns
Today we made our annual crown of thorns out of salt dough and you can find the link at Catholics United for the Faith (CUF).   Click HERE to find recipe and other Lenten resources from CUF.

Here is a picture I took today while my kid's hands mixed the salt dough ingredients:

Each time our children and my husband and I make little or big sacrifices during Lent, we will pull out a toothpick to remove Jesus' thorns from his crown. 

So many opportunities to think beyond ourselves, hence the many, many, many "thorns" !

Then just before Easter, our children will paint the thorn-less crown gold and glue jewels on the crown to represent that Jesus our King has risen!  The decorated crown looks lovely on the Easter table.  Here is a picture of a crown we did a few years ago:

Bean Jar
Speaking of sacrifices, another Lenten tradition our family does is the "bean jar".  We have a bowl filled with dried kidney beans, then when a family member makes a sacrifice, they put a bean in the jar.  Then on Easter morning the children will find that the beans that have accumulated in the jar during Lent will be changed into colorful and yummy jelly beans!
I told the kids that on Ash Wednesday and every Friday in Lent they could get a "2 for 1" deal on their sacrifices, meaning if they do something on Fridays they can pull a toothpick and put a bean in the jar vs. choosing one or the other like on the other Lenten days.  

Holy Heroes

I got the bean jar idea from Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure last year and we decided to try it in our home during Lent.  Our family loves Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure (and Advent Adventure) and you can register your email for free to receive weekly links all about Lent.  I have learned so much along with my children!

Speaking of Holy Heroes, I recently met a Holy Heroes "celebrity" at a Catholic conference called Ignited By Truth.  I met the oldest daughter, Virginia, at the Holy Heroes/Belmont Abbey College vendor table and I just had to snap a picture of her to show my kids.  It was great to chat with her and her father at the conference.  What an amazing family!  My kids said "Cool!" when I showed them this picture:

Family Devotional Book
Throughout Lent our family will be reading once again, A Family Journey with Jesus through Lent by Angela M. Burrin published by The Word Among Us.  We really enjoy this book as it is written to promote family prayer and the characters in each story for each day of Lent are children and families that live in Jesus' time.  Then after each story that is based on scripture there is a "Jesus, Speak to Me" section where it is written as if Jesus is speaking to us.  This is a wonderful book that has been great to read as a family each day during Lent!

Stations of the Cross
Many years ago, when my older two children were little I had them color printable stations of the cross.  I then glued them onto construction paper and each Lent we tape them up in order on our dining room wall.  Each Friday as a family we pray through the stations of the cross with these. 
I can't remember where I got these particular coloring pages, but here are some other printable stations of the cross that children can color.

Several years ago, I found a simple presentation of the Stations of the Cross for kids 10 and under and this is what we use to say the stations during Lent.  It was in The Word Among Us Lenten Family Edition, Lent 2006 and HERE is a link to part of the article if you would like to review it.  Only subscribers to The Word Among Us can view this kid's version of Stations of the Cross in its entirety, however.

Last, but not least, I printed out this great printable Lent calendar for my children, which was drawn by Lacy at Catholic Icing.  Lacy has so many craft ideas and links for Lent and the entire liturgical year!  Be sure to check out her posts and she is currently giving away lots of awesome prizes just in time for Lent and St. Patrick's Day!

Please join Lynda, Anna-Marie and myself for March's No Ordinary Blog Hop (NOBH). We are having a giveaway this month so join the fun! Click button below for details!


I knew you would be writing something on Lent. I was waiting for it. I'll add your link on my post. :)

These are some great ideas Tracy. I love the crown and the bean jar. Last night we had pancakes for dinner:) and talked to the kids about Ash Wednesday and the purpose behind it. I think I am going to do the jelly bean/ bean jar idea to talk about what we sacrifice for Jesus. LOVE LOVE that Idea!! When we live in MO we used to go to the Catholic Church Fish Fry every Friday during Lent. It was good and a lot of fun.

Unknown said...

Lots of really great resources for Lent! I will have to check out the book with the daily devotionals for family that you mentioned. We colored the Stations, but I like how you put construction paper behind them! Have a blessed day.

Renee said...

I love the cross/toothpick and bean/jellybean activities! Such great ways to bring these truths home to your kids. I'm sure God will speak to their little hearts through this special season!

Wow you have great, unique ideas to celebrate. Very creative also. The toothpick stuff should be shared (I guess you are sharing it here)

Mary said...

Awesome stuff!!! Thanks!

Mom2Seven said...

Fantastic, Tracy! I really like the crown of thorns idea. Once again, an awesome post sharing our beautiful Catholic faith. +JMJ+

Unknown said...

Thank you for explaining your Lent activities. Some really wonderful ideas. Have a wonderful week and God bless you.

Unknown said...

Hi Tracy,

Great Lenten ideas. I love it! My favorites have to be the bean jar, and the stations of the cross. I also really like the idea of turning the crown of thorns into a beautiful crown for our King. Thanks for sharing the devotional book. I have been looking for one for the kids for some time now. This one looks great! Thank you so much for sharing. Have a wonderful Ash Wednesday.

Stopping by to vote for you today. Hope you are having a good day:)

Thanks for linking up to my post Christine! I enjoyed reading your plans for Lent too!

Thanks Anna-Marie for your comments! Pancakes? That sounds yummy! Did you know Kimberly over at Happy Hearts Academy loved your pancake idea too and posted a link to your blog?
Oh yes, my parents go to fish fries for Fridays in Lent and we sometimes join them! Glad you liked the bean jar idea and hope you get to use it. Our family loved the idea the minute we learned about it. Simple to set up, but not always easy to drop beans in the jar ! :)

Hi Jen,
If you get a chance to get the book, I hope you will like it. We are enjoying the daily short stories. Thanks for your visit and comments!

Hi Renee Ann,
Thank you for your visit and encouraging comments! May you have a blessed Lent!

Hi Kim,
I wish I could say I thought of all the ideas on my own, but I just like to "steal" great ideas, use them for our family and blog about them in hopes to inspire others :) Glad you stopped by and commented!

Thanks Mary for your visit and comment!

Hi Annita!
Great to hear from you again and thank you for your encouraging words! I hope you get to try the crown of thorns idea out with your family. I think this is the first year I made the crown with the kids before the start of Lent. Usually I'm a few days behind with starting this tradition each year :/

Thanks Lynda for stopping in with your busy life and schedule! It's always fun to share ideas that have inspired my family.

Hi Kimberly!
So glad you enjoyed the ideas! There are so many great ways to prepare for Easter, these are just a few ideas that were easy enough for me to start with my family :) I hope you get to check out the devotional book. It really is a great read aloud and I love the fact that the stories are SHORT :)
Have a blessed Lent!

Chris said...

Thank you Tracy for these great ideas....

Love the links, etc...book ideas....

Hope you are feeling better!


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