How can Lent be almost here when it seems as though we just went through the 12 days of Christmas? If you are on a church staff, you might be scrambling for ideas about how to make Lent real for all the parishioners—including children.
One idea I can share is an activity which took us to Pentecost. A couple of teens who were handy with wood made a cross and bored different size holes all over the cross. Everyone was invited to be part of the cross by writing a short prayer, poem, what they might do during the week as a Lenten discipline. Little children were encouraged to draw pictures. At the offertory, everyone would take their “offering” to the cross and put it in a basket. Later the holes were filled with all the offerings and replaced each week, saving those removed for Holy Saturday.
On Holy Saturday at the Vigil, all the offerings were burned to become the First Fire and light the Easter Candle. While this was taking place, the holes in the cross were filled with fresh flowers in tiny vials of water. Everyone was involved in this, too. The church had been divided into six intergenerational groups and each assigned one week to put fresh flowers in the cross.
When it came to Ascension Thursday, the cross became a cloud of baby’s breath and the youth usually did a mime during the gospel and put the baby’s breath in the cross holes. The cross was gone at Pentecost and replacing it were red balloons and/or ribbons all over the church. Again, the youth group acted out the gospel and gave everyone a red balloon or red ribbon.
Thank you church staff, large and small, for all your work behind the scenes.
Pat Pickett, OblSB
Photos: The crosses of Lent, taken by Pat Pickett