This week, Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of the forty days of the Catholic Church Season of Lent. The Lenten Season is a time to prepare to receive the gift of the Risen Christ through acts of kindness, prayer and almsgiving, not just fasting and sacrifice. It is a period of waiting, culminating with new life.
Catholics gather in church the first day of Lent using blessed ashes to mark the Sign of the Cross on the forehead as a reminder that we need to change our lives to follow the teachings of Jesus, draw closer to Him, while remembering all he did for us. The cross is the most important sign for Catholics during Lent. The following activity helps children to create their own cross, a special sign for Jesus during the Lenten Season.
- Find a branch and break it into two pieces.
- Using string, tie two of the pieces together.
- Fill a small milk carton with soil.
- Place the cross deep in the soil, making sure it stands up. Say a prayer with your child to reflect on what Jesus did for us.
- Sprinkle the soil with grass seed, pat down, water and place in a well lit area.
- When the grass sprouts, remind your child that this represents new life the similar to the resurrection of Jesus.
Lent can seem long and a little frightening to children who may not understand the meaning, especially if they have decided to sacrifice something special. However, although it has been customary to “give something up” since childhood such as chocolate, candy or dessert until Palm Sunday, it is not the entire message. Rather, the Church asks Catholics to open their hearts to receive Jesus through prayer, confession, acts of kindness and works of charity.
According to Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre that “at the heart of the Cross of Jesus Christ is forgiveness and reconciliation”. The fasting is of course obligated on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, but it is more than sacrificing bits of sweets. It is about giving up the vices that surround one’s heart and opening it up to receive God’s Love and new life.
God bless and may the Season of Lent fill your hearts with the presence of Jesus Christ. Subscribe to this Catholic column to have other Lenten and Easter activities for kids delivered straight to your inbox, free of charge.
Deirdre Haggerty, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior written permission and consent from the author or Clarity Digital Group LLC, DBA Examiner.com.