It's hard to believe that Lent is here with the first day of Lent being so early in February this year! 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 attended an Ash Wednesday Mass this morning 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
One day soon we will make 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 in 2011 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.
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:
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.
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.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!
Have a blessed Lenten season!