Lent in our little monastery

I love Lent! This liturgical season has to be one of my favorites. I don’t know why, I just long for it. I am not by nature a melancholic person, I’m very joyful I think, but I love Lent. Maybe it’s because I am such a sanguine at heart – I need holy mother Church to remind me to “Be Still” for 40 days – slow down, remember why it is we can be so joyful every Sunday at Mass.

I’m such a visual person – if I can’t see it, I can’t remember it, internalize it, pray about it, or make it my own. Kids are the same way. I’m so grateful God gave me a child’s heart and mind – sometimes I feel left out in grown-up conversations. I’d love to join in on matters of theology and philosophy because I’m attracted to things of beauty, but God in His infinite wisdom did not grant me such a mind. It took me so many years to figure that out, and many public humiliations. God knew my vocation though, He knew I would need a certain heart and mind for the children He had planned for our family. And so it is. I am not a scholar! but I digress…So, for Lent, we really try to bring out as many holy reminders of the season to remind us all of the somber, penitential nature of the season. I love this!! The children love this too. They are tasked with cloaking our statues in purple, setting out the crown of thorns, and setting up our family feast table. I couldn’t resist showing you this adorable picture of the images of the Blessed Lady we have in our school room near the kids computer. Sparkly lovingly cloaked them, tucking and wedging until the slippery, sheer material clung.

The feast table is by far one of the best teaching tools in our home. I can’t remember who came up with this original idea – I think it was my very creative Mom! But it has borne much fruit! We decorate it with each of the seasons of the Church. For Advent we include an empty Nativity here, along with a statue of St. Nicholas and an empty creche. Then Christmas morning, the lights are on in the Nativitiy, baby Jesus arrives in the creche, the children’s gifts of love are displayed on the feast table. You get the idea, each season has its symbols, and each year I am mindful of the statues, holy cards, and holy reminders I’d like to collect and display here. The kids are in charge of how they will be displayed. My favorite feast table design is the Communion of Saints we set up in November – can’t wait to share that one with all of you. Anyway, here is how Sweet Pea and Sparkly set it up for Lent.

The crown of thorns is always an impression maker. What a humiliation for our Lord! I thought Sweet Pea set the table up beautifully, notice she set the beautiful image of our suffering Lord inside the crown of thorns. I didn’t miss the symbolism there! And then, she fervently searched throughout the house for the perfect holy card of Mother Mary, and wedged it between two of the entwined branches of the crown at the base of our suffering Lord’s picture. Father Oak is dressed in his Lenten vestments. We keep a beautiful set of Stations of the Cross out in sheet protectors, several holy cards, and lots of beautiful artwork. There is a teeny-tiny statue of St. Joseph on the feast table between a holy card and a small crucifix because his feast is later this month. I really need a beautiful (taller than our current 2″ version) statue of St. Joseph! And in the beautiful oak frame my brother made me – Leonardo da Vinci’s representation of the Last Supper.
I have set as a goal to fashion something akin to the whip used to scourge our Lord to include on our feast table. We came pretty close to one when we made Sweet Pea’s St. Philomena costume for All Saints. We took a wooden dowel, grabbed some ribbon from the sewing room – about 18-20 inches of it per strand – and tied 3 strands of ribbon to the end of the dowel. Then to the free end of the ribbon we attached 3 jacks – you know from the game “jacks” – the little X’s on the end of the dowel looked just like the whip used to scourge Jesus. But toys dangling from ribbons just don’t have the awe factor I’m looking for during Lent.

These symbols on the feast table really help me meditate on the Sorrowful mysteries during Rosary time.

I think our Lent needs another tradition though. I read about one family who collected symbols of the Stations of the Cross in a large basket, and each child brought out the appropriate symbol for the family to view while praying the Stations. I like that idea a lot! Maybe I can start looking around. If I get enough things together, I’ll have to take a picture and let you know. And another idea I came across was to gather some Lenten pictures in a purple folder for the kids to color. On the back of the pictures you have the kids dictate a little message to our Lord. These would be such precious treasures in years to come, would they not??!!

I’ll have to see what I have time for.

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  1. Just checking in to see what was going on in the Wildflower and Marble household today. All I can say is “WOW!!”. It looks like you have been busy. I love it. I will see you this afternoon.

  2. This is the happiest little blog I’ve seen! I can’t wait till your technical skills increase and we can all enjoy a live streaming peanut-cam or maybe a flash filled hall of sparkley!I love the little garden of traditionlets that you’re cultivating within the domestic church of your family. You call it a little monastery perhaps partly in jest, but just like the “real” monasterys of old this is where and how civilizations are born. Be sure and give sister sweet pea and brothers sparkle and peanut my love.nobis

  3. I am enjoying your posts and pictures. Love all the ideas you are finding to help make Lent more meaningful for all of you.

  4. Love this idea. How do you keep little fingers from destroying the table and bringing pieces all over the rest of the house?God bless,Kristen

  5. Kristen – We don’t keep little hands off!! But, we do have a rule that once something is placed on the table, it stays on the table for the duration of that season. The big kids help enforce the little people in this regard, but I’ve never really had a big problem. It’s hard to tell from the picture I guess, but the table is fairly tall – so little hands can’t reach the back of the table (which is where we try to set up holy cards and paper things that can be ripped.) I only put resin/plastic statues up there, and the idea always has been that the kids would be encouraged to touch and visit their little shrine. In fact that is one of their favorite things – rearranging the feast table on a daily basis. The only time I really have trouble is during Advent. Sparkly and Sweet Pea have two very different ideas about how to arrange the feast table!! So, they each take a day to set it up and leave it the way they like it. It is not uncommon though for one of them to be caught sneaking in and rearranging on the sly. Sparkly has a thing for symmetry – all 3 of the empty creche’s we set out have to be in line – and they really need to have the same amount of hay in them. (We put in a piece of hay each time we do a loving deed for baby Jesus during Advent – so it is not uncommon for one of the creches to be a little “loftier” than the others.) I’m so glad you’re visiting my blog Kristen! Thanks for the comments.

  6. I came across your lovely and wonderful blog about 2 months ago and suspected immediately that I had found a kindred spirit. Amidst the busyness of starting up school for the year I kind of put you on the back burner, but tonight was reminded of your blog and came back to visit. However, you have such richness here that I decided I'm just going to have to go back to the very beginning and work my way through like it's a treasured book to savor. I already know, however, that I will quickly be overwhelmed by all the things I'd like to remember, duplicate, buy/find, or just be inspired by. A daunting task stands ahead of me, but it's one I am looking forward to thoroughly enjoying.

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