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.