Friday, February 1, 2008

Celebrating Lent with a big family...

Celebrating Lent with a Large Family

It is that time of year when I pull out our box full of Lenten materials that we have accumulated of years. There is the Lego cave that we use to hide Jesus in, then we cover it up with a big flat rock we found in the yard and seal it with clay. There are old candles we used in an egg carton for the Stations of the Cross. I hoped that the kids would remember the deep meaning of Christ’s suffering and passion, but they just remember the lights out and dad saying, “let us snuff!” to the child in charge of snuffing out the candle during that station. There are the blocks that we used to make a mock display of Jesus’ last week starting at Bethany with Mary and Martha and ending with His crucifixion on the hill of Calvary. I have old pictures that I have saved that make a mom smile, especially the one my daughter drew when she was about seven of Christ’s face with colored tears staining his checks. What most people can’t tell is that the bumps and wrinkles on the paper are from the many years ago when she drew it and added her own tears of sadness at what Christ did for us. There is a large piece of purple cloth we use to display our Lenten colors on tables and small black pieces to cover the statues and crucifixes. We have the eggs with various symbols for different events in the passion. We have a bag full of odd toys that we used for symbols like an angel ornament, a toy solider, a small crucifix, pieces of old palm branches, white cloth, coins, a doll cup, small toy rooster, and other strange things that we found to use as symbols of Christ’s last days. I have a stack of recipes, most of which didn’t work and others that tasted bad. We have the small posters my kids made for our Seder dinner of the plaques of Egypt. All of these we used about once and put away for another years venue.

Each year I try to think up different activities for my family’s state in life, that aren’t too tasking and overwhelming. I try to evaluate our life before choosing what we will do. Is it a new baby, pregnant, sports, sickness, construction, or other activities that make our life crazier than usual? I have learned, the simpler the better!

Last year I was expecting my eleventh child and I tried to find something that my one to seventeen year old could grasp. I chose an idea a friend of mine suggested years ago, writing virtues on rocks and each person picking one to work on for the day or the week. I never attempted it due to my three young sons’, and the thoughts of them throwing them at each other or at my windows. Last year the youngest boy turned five and I thought he was mature enough to give it a try. What a surprise, when after I displayed them on a small wooden candle stand with three purple candles on them, at the response I got from most of them. I choose virtues and things we needed to work on. I also added the gifts of the Holy Spirit since we had a child receiving Confirmation that year. On the most part it worked great for us and I looked forward to the mornings when my five, seven, and nine year old asked me what their rock meant. It gave us a chance to talk about the importance of speaking well of others, or what humble means, sometimes it got tricky when the five year old picked the rock that say’s chastity. He smiled when I explained to him the importance of privacy in a house of twelve and how it isn’t appropriate to do the goofey little dance he does sometimes when changing into his pj’s! All in all it worked as well as most ideas with a large family full of interesting personalities.

Each year I look at Lent as a second chance for us to look at our New Year’s Resolution, a chance to revaluate our relationship with God. A time to look at the negative habits we have started to form and try to get back on the right track.

Large family or small, I hope we take advantage of the time we have left and really prepare our hearts for Easter morning when we say, “Christ is risen, He has risen indeed!”