Monday, February 18, 2013

A 7 Step Lenten Plan

   I’m participating in the Keeping LOVE in LENT Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by
Raising (& Teaching) Little SaintsTruly Rich Mom and Arma Dei: Equipping Catholic Families. We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus on Lenten sacrifices, prayer and good deeds, and how to carry them out with LOVE instead of a GRUMBLE. Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of link-up entries.

I present our Lenten plan, operative word being “plan”. Of course, this doesn’t include the meatless and fasting Fridays.  Those things are part and parcel of the Hazard Rule of Life throughout the year, as opposed to flexible plans. Everyone knows plans can contrast from reality, right?

     1.    Crown of Thorns.  This is one tradition my children always get excited about.  Not only does it involve mixing, kneading, baking, braiding and decorating with toothpicks, but they genuinely get the idea that each small act of sacrifice helps ease Jesus’ pain when they take a toothpick /thorn out.  Conversely, they also understand that a small transgression hurts Jesus when they have to return a toothpick/thorn back in.  

By the way, experienced mamas, how do you get your clay to tan? 
 And I'm not talking about photoshop here.

2.   Tree of life.  A friend made this for the girls’ Little Flower group one year so we eagerly adopted it.  Each child makes a tree of life and displays it in the homeschool room.  They cut out fruits to symbolize a Sacrament received throughout Lent and store them in a letter-size envelope behind the pins.
(Materials: left over scrapbook paper, construction paper, laundry pins,
letter envelope, glue & scissors)

   Whenever we go to daily Mass, Adoration or Confession, they paste a fruit onto a branch.  The goal is to have a soul planted with life-giving Sacraments that bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

Tree of Life with frui--- Wha?? Are those butterflies? I told the girls to cut out fruits, honest.  But I guess butterflies are the new fruits and the latest interpretation for Sacraments is that: it enables our souls to take flight, like the Holy Spirit and the angels.

3.  Angelus & Examination of Conscience.  Many great ideas  have transitioned from Lenten practice into regular, permanent habits (i.e. giving up soda, TV etc.)  so I hope to add two things to our daily rhythm of prayer:  the Angelus at noon and the Examination of Conscience before bedtime.  That makes a total of four in our schedule (+morning offering and consecration & evening rosary) --a LOT when you have little children but with Our Lady's graces, hopefully at least one will stick. Wish us luck.

4.   Friday Stations of the Cross— Growing up, it was strictly a Good Friday practice but my husband likes to observe this devotion every Friday on Lent with our parish.  Praying it together with several homeschooling families in the area has been good training and incentive for the kids.  But all the incentive I need is given in a list of promises by Christ to Bro. Estanislao (source: Prayers and Heavenly Promises Compiled from Approved Sources by Joan Carroll Cruz): “Those who pray the Way of the Cross often will have a special glory in heaven; I will fix My eyes on those who pray the way of the Cross often, My hands will always be open to protect them; I will bless them at each Way of the Cross, and My blessing will follow them everywhere on earth and, after death, in heaven for all eternity; at the hour of death, I will not permit the devil to tempt them; death will be sweet to all those who have honored Me during their lives by praying the Way of the Cross…”

5.  Lenten Mission and Retreat.  We’ve been blessed to have Fr. Shannon Collins from the Fathers of Mercy for our mission.  After one of his talks, the one quote that I have taken for my Lenten theme is this: “The Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God.  They are written into the hearts of all men.”  We also saved the date for a retreat with the Alliance of the Two Hearts, with Fr. Edgardo Arellano, frequent EWTN guest and excellent youtube teacher:

6.   Media Break & Spiritual Reading.  The children have offered to abstain from playing games on the computer (so far so good but we’ll see how that goes). Lent is my opportunity to watch only saint videos, decelerate my blogging and take a complete Facebook break.  I’d really like to sit at the Lord’s feet more and read the Revelations of St. Bridget as well as the Dialogue of St. Catherine of Sienna (Did you know you can download free Catholic e-books at I also hope to slow my personal/family writing down and focus on more feature articles.  Don't worry ole Blog, I’ll post links when I’m published at Catholic Stand, Catholic Lane and Ignitum today so you won't completely look as dead as a little toenail around here.

7.  Almsgiving.   As always, pro life is our favorite cause.  Our parish is collecting coins in baby bottles for a fundraising.  

Oops, almsgiving is supposed to be done in secret, right?  Guess I’m going to check out these other awesome bloggers for more almsgiving ideas and button up my lip now.  

Sole Searching Mamma: 15 Ways to Experience a More Meaningful Lent
Catholic All Year: My Biggest Lent Fails and How I Learned Mortification...

Four Little Ones: Keeping Love in Lent
Gaels Crafty Treasures Keeping Love in Lent
Bear Wrongs Patiently: Lent for the Scrupulous
Rosary Mom: Keeping Love in Lent
LoveLetters 7.10: Teacups {Keeping the Love in Lent}
Little Saints in the Making: Keep Love in Lent
Blessed with Full Hands: Keeping love in Lent- Praise Him
Normal Chaos: Our Own Personalized Lenten Journey
These Little Blessings: Gifting Love this Lent
The Cajun Catholic: The our Father; a lenten reflection 
Truly Rich Mom: Keeping Love in Lent... Even When It Is Difficult 

SaIsa Pang Sulyap - Fullness Of His Love
LiturgicalTime: Keeping Love in Lent - Finding Balance
Grace Loves Iggy: love in lent
Sacred Oysters: Empty (Keeping LOVE in LENT)
Tercets:Make Heart Rosary Decades to Pray for Others
The Diary of a Sower: Our Lenten Prayer Tree
A Living Garden -- Giving for Others with Love: Keeping LOVE in LENT
Homegrown Catholics: Motivated by my childrens' activities {Lent}
MyBroken Fiat: Keeping Love in Lent... Barely
Journey to Wisdom: Keeping Love in Lent: Bands of Love
Softening My Heart: An Anniversary Lesson duringLent           


Amy @ This Cross I Embrace said...

This are great! Thanks for sharing!

I'm wondering, though I've never made one, myself, if you can get more of a tan color in the crown of thorns by mixing in tea instead of just water with the clay? Perhaps?

Chad Adams said...

I really like the idea of writing out a full plan to approach lent, It seems like it would help keep your entire lent on track. I've never heard of the first two activities, but will definitely keep those in mind for when my daughter is old enough to participate in them. I don't know if you guys use the Magnificat but its also a great prayer resource and they also make a kids edition, you may find it useful in adding more prayer/reflection time in your day. Thanks for sharing!


Anabelle Hazard said...

Amy, I tried the tea...after the dough was formed so I hastily brushed it on. I'll try to put it in before.

Chad,I'd forgotten about Magnificat for kids (we had that one Christmas but they were too young) I'll have to get that for Advent since I'm probably too late to join the Lent wagon. Thank you for the suggestion.

noreen said...

Hi Anabelle, you have so many great ideas! I'm not sure of the crown of thorns color issue. My guess is to spray paint it. How well do the toothpicks stay? Last year, I used play doh and it worked for a couple of days and then dried up too much. This year, I used grape vine wreaths so the toothpicks can be used over and over again. It also comes in the brown color too. I like hat you're doing an examination of conscience before bed each night. That may even turn into a year round habit. We also do the stations. This year my son will be the cross bearer and. Will be a reader for this Friday night. I did not know about the free Catholic ebooks. Thank you very much for the too! May your Lenten Journey deepen your love and faith for Jesus!

noreen said...

Forgot to mention that we share the same desire to stand up for the unborn!

Gina said...

I love the Tree of Life cards. Counting adoration, Eucharist, etc as "fruits" is perfect. What a great way to SEE the invisible fruits of such pious practices.

Your friend is genius, and you are an angel for sharing the practice with us. BTW, they're adorable, so your children did quite well! :)

As always, Anabelle, you are wonderful! Thank you so much!

Stephanie Harrington said...

I used to be involved with the Alliance of the Two Hearts when I lived in Dover, Delaware. They aware truly fabulous and I was blessed with having the Oblates of the Two Hearts in my life!May God bless your retreat:) Each and every one of your points are really great ways to observe lent. Thank you.

Jenna@CallHerHappy said...

I've heard of taking a thorn out, but never putting one back in. That is a really awesome way to symbolize a big idea to your children. Thanks!

Monique said...

I really like the Tree of Life. What a beautiful way to kids the kids involved.

Kari said...

One year we made a crown of thorns but we took the easy way out and bought the expandable foam that comes in an aerosol can. We squirted it out in the shape of a circle. It grew and then hardened and when it dried, we stuck in the toothpicks. It comes out a sort of yellowish tan color.

I love the tree of life. Might have to try that one with my children....

mary333 said...

Hi Anabelle,
Great ideas for Lent! I especially love the "crown of thorns". We are doing a fasting bowl for Lent this year. The bowl is filled with slips of paper that list things to fast from and we each pick a slip in the morning and that's our fast for the day. My daughter always makes sure to put coffee and computer on the

Laura said...

I'm not sure why, but we've never been good at keeping up things like the crown of thorns. It starts out fine but peters out after awhile. I do, however, love that tree of life idea. Might have to remember that one as it would be good for Advent, too.

Ginger P. Arboleda ( said...

I love the tree idea! And the coins in baby bottles is sooo cute! :) Great 7 step plan for Lent! Goodluck! :) have a blessed Lenten Season!

Susan Husband said...

The tree of life idea is so neat. I've never seen anything like it before! Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful ideas ;).

Teresa Gumap-as Dumadag said...

Nice ideas for Lent! May God bless you as you carry out your plans.

Anabelle Hazard said...

Mary, I'm definitely doing your fasting bowl soon -- and excluding computer! Our daughter's know what our weaknesses are, don't they? ;)

Anabelle Hazard said...

Thank you for the great comments. Yesterday was an offline day (self-denial and all) so I wasn't able to approve and reply. Here they come:

Noreen, you're welcome. I'm going to check out your vine grape wreaths -- they must look more authentic.

Jenna, we had to put toothpicks back in since I noticed they were getting pulled out at an alarming rate.

Stephanie, the two hearts ARE fabulous. WE were hoping they'd move here, but they're now in Nebraska.

And to everyone else, the tree of life is the easiest craft ever --that's why we like it. said...

All great ideas! I especially love the way you emphasize the sacraments - I'm sure there's no better way of growing closer to the Lord during Lent than through the sacraments...

Nancy Ward said...

I love your Tree of Life and also the ProLife almsgiving bank. I will pass this on to my friend who leads our diocesan Pro-Life office.

Heidi said...

Wow! I love the Tree of Life idea! I will have to try that one! Thanks for sharing it.

Monica McConkey said...

I love the Tree of Life...what a great way to represent the Sacraments received during Lent.
The Crown of Thorns is beautiful. I made one (and actually blogged about it) and I painted it bright colors. The photo was originally used for this Lent Link-Up until one blogger told me that she wouldn't join because the picture looked like blood sausage and onion rings. Now I can't look at the picture without seeing the same! I like yours better! =) said...

Great ideas! I like the idea of collecting coins in a baby bottle. Thanks for sharing the e-books download link.

God bless.

Ultreya Coeur said...

Your Tree of Life is beautiful! I love the look of your blog. It is very inspiring how often you and your children pray together. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas you shared, and a blessed Lent for you and your loved ones.

Sarah Hauer said...

I love the idea of the tree of life for your girls! How wonderful for them to see the beautiful butterflies for each sacrament. I may have to begin that next year for lent, or perhaps incorporate it this year yet. Blessings to your family, may you have a love filled Lenten season. - Sarah Hauer

Gail Smith said...

Lovely ideas! The butterflies were a great idea from the girls. Thanks for sharing.