And to dust you shall return.
I missed hearing these sobering words this morning (the acolyte said “Repent & Believe in the Gospel” instead). The more traditional words are oddly comforting because they remind me that life really comes down to some very simple (yet profound) truths: that God made me to love Him & to serve Him; that He loves me beyond my wildest dreams; and that this life will pass away and I must live for the next one…
I took the three little ones to Ash Wednesday Mass at Olivia’s school this morning, which is celebrated in the gym. The less than ideal moments included several screeching followed by giggling episodes much to baby brother’s delight; several clarifying questions about how much longer we were going to be there (it was a 1.5 hr service in their defense); a few episodes of throwing toys out into the gym floor. The highlights: we had a spot big enough to spread out a little while we looked at books on the floor; we got to receive ashes made from the previous years’ palms (including the ones we had saved in our house); Mama received Jesus in the Eucharist.
I don’t know that the girls have ever received ashes before … it’s not a Holy Day of Obligation and I’m not sure I’ve taken them in the last few years. Anyway, as soon as we got back to our spot after getting the ashes, Molly noticed the black smudges on Violet’s forehead and immediately started trying to wipe them off. I tried to quietly explain that we wanted them to stay on today. She was quite perplexed and had no idea she had the same black smudges on her own forehead!
I have been all over the map when it comes to Lent – from my super serious days in high school (admittedly speeding is the hardest thing I’ve ever given up – who can go the speed limit on country roads?) to my extremely laid back days while pregnant & nursing. I’m trying to find a happy medium this year so that it is challenging, but doable. I am also looking forward to engaging the girls more in the season. For myself, I am going to start the day with a Morning Offering and follow the daily lenten prompts in Small Steps for Catholic Moms – companion journal. There is a simple suggestion for fasting, praying & giving in the midst of the family each day. I tried it last year and didn’t keep up well while getting settled with a newborn. Hopefully, without that distraction this year (or at least with the distraction a year older), I will be more faithful to it. I’m also taking a break from Facebook in the hopes of cultivating a quiet home life with fewer distractions from the work at hand (both the children & the housework). In the traditional categories, here are our plans as a family:
Pray – night time prayers every night, and very simple stations at home each Friday
Fast – no sweets (Sundays & birthdays excluded for the children), no meat on Fridays & Ash Wednesday
Alms – homeless care packages (at Livy’s request)
- Catholic Baby’s First Easter (board book)
- Where are Baby’s Easter Eggs? (board book)
- The Story of the Empty Tomb
- The Way of the Cross for Children
- Celebrating Lent
- The Easter Story
- My First Story of Easter (my favorite in our Easter collection)
- Tomie’s Book of Bible Stories
- Precious Moments The Wonder of Easter
- The Tale of Three Trees
- Fancy Nancy’s Elegant Easter
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- Heaven is for Real for Kids
- The Story of Jesus
- Bible Stories for Little Children
- Resurrection Eggs (we have the commercially available set that we got 80% off one year after Easter at Hobby Lobby, but there are some great ideas for making your own, too).
I’ve really enjoyed having a special collection of books that we get out every Advent. I know that reading so many versions of the Christmas Story for weeks ahead of time prepares all of us for the true meaning of the Christmas celebration. I’m hoping to do the same with the Easter basket of books in the hopes that spending 40 days reading about the last week of Christ’s life and the special ways people remember the Resurrection will set us up to realize there is more to Easter than egg hunts. However, for both Advent & Lent, I did decide to include the fun (and more secular) books, along with the religious ones so that we can talk about how it all fits together. This year the girls will be receiving a story book and a coloring book to add to our Lent/Easter collection.
- Lent coloring book
- Stations of the Cross coloring book
- Easter coloring book
- The Week that Led to Easter
- The Easter story
- The Miracle of Easter
I think it is worth mentioning that we have acquired most of these books at very low cost – some gifts to us, many at Half Price Books and others when there are deals on Amazon. I have a very long wish list of books for the girls and I just keep an eye out for the titles we’d like to have in our home library so I can buy them when I find a good deal. I really appreciate the blogs that have recommended beautiful, faithful books about these holy days so I wanted to contribute to the recommendations.
I was also recently introduced to Pinterest and have collected several other ideas for Lent and Easter – too many to do in any given year, but it’s nice to have a place to collect them. For your browsing, here are my Lent “pins” and my Easter “pins”. I don’t think you have to have an account to see them, but I could be wrong about that … let me know if the comments if you can’t get to them.
May your Lenten season be blessed and your Easter be joyful!