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Domestic Church Faith Formation Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Martina Prayer

Creative Ways to Lean Into Holy Week (When You Don’t Feel Like You Can)

I don’t know about you, friend, but this has been about the Lentiest Lent ever. Who knew at the beginning of Lent that we’d all be home Sunday after Sunday watching live-streamed Mass from our respective parishes – or even taking a tour around the world to watch live-streamed Masses from other places. Certainly not me. While our Faith is universal and the beauty of that connectedness now more than ever realized when we visit other churches during their Mass times, it does not make up for the fact that we are hurting for and with Jesus. We crave worship with Jesus in His house and partaking of Him – Body, Blood, Soul, & Divinity. While we continue to wait for the outcome of this virus and its effects on our society, now more than ever we can lean into some creative ways to walk with Jesus this Holy Week. Let’s jump right in and see what’s going on around the Catholic blogging world for ways we can embrace our walking the way of Calvary.

While this list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, it also isn’t meant to exhaust you. Pick one to do or read or watch. Do what you can. I certainly don’t want this to feel like you should do all the things. Do you have any links to add that we’ve missed? Share in the comments with us!

Comfort Reading & Activities

Maundy Thursday

Good Friday

O Lord, as we gaze upon You nailed to the cross, we wonder why God chose this path for our redemption. Why did there have to be such pain? Why such gore and brutality? Why did You have to go through betrayal, mockery, and emptiness? Why did the Father have to forsake You in the hour of Your greatest need?

Jesus, the mystery of suffering is hard for us to grasp. We will understand it fully in eternity, but we do know some things now. We know that You chose to be lifted up on a cross out of love for us. We know that suffering purifies us, that, if borne with fortitude and patience, it leads us to gratitude and a greater love for You. Because our sins cause others to suffer, suffering can make reparation for the sins we commit, if we join them to Your Sacrifice. In every situation where we cry with bewilderment, “why?”, God answers us with a vision of Your Passion. Help us to enter deeply into the mystery of Your suffering and death this day, and to listen what You say to us in our hearts. Amen.

Holy Saturday

The Lord’s Descent into Hell (A reading from an ancient homily for Holy Saturday)

“What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam’s son.

The Lord goes in to them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

‘I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

‘Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

‘See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

`I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

‘But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

“The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages.”

Prayer

Almighty, ever-living God, whose Only-begotten Son descended to the realm of the dead, and rose from there to glory, grant that your faithful people, who were buried with him in baptism, may, by his resurrection, obtain eternal life.

(We make our prayer) through our Lord. 

(Through Christ our Lord.)

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Easter Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Lent Liturgical Year

The Final Days of Lent: Questions to Facilitate Lenten Reflection

Lenten reflectionToday is the 5th Friday of Lent and in just two days we’ll be celebrating Palm Sunday and ushering in Holy Week. Can you believe we’re already at the end of Lent? I feel like it has gone by really quickly this time around. But I’m glad I caught that we were near the end before we actually got to the end.

With just a few days left, I think it’s a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned this Lent before entering into the Sacred Triduum. It’s the best time to reflect on how I fulfilled (or not fulfilled) my Lenten promises and ask myself, “Did I take on too much or not enough and did this Lent truly prepared me for the upcoming Easter season?”

I’d like to invite you to reflect on your own Lent as well. I came up with a list of questions for myself, and I hope to spend some time reflecting on each of these this weekend. I hope these questions can help all of us to reflect more deeply on our Lenten experiences.

SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:

On days when I broke my Lenten promises, was it due to forgetfulness, laziness, or weakness?

If forgetfulness, how can I help myself in the future to better remember my promised sacrifices each day?

If laziness, I should take some serious time to reflect on the root causes of my laziness. Is it due to ignorance or selfishness? Maybe it’s the result of bad habits that go back years (laziness begets laziness). Reflect on the crucifix and the wounds of Christ and pray for inspiration to help forge ahead and out of this state.

If weakness, is it because I took on too much for Lent? Lent should be hard, in a challenging way, not an impossible way. Or is it due to a lack of spiritual maturity?


Did I grow closer to Jesus Christ this Lent?

What have I done to grow my relationship with my Lord?

What could I have done better to deepen that relationship?

How might I do things differently in the future to help that relationship deepen?


D
id Lent adequately prepare my heart with a sense of anticipation for the upcoming Easter celebration?

Although I know the ultimate outcome of the Crucifixion is the Resurrection (something the Apostles did not know would happen), do I have a sense of the hopelessness and fear the Apostles had when Jesus was arrested and subsequently crucified?

Did my sacrifices this Lent draw me to a point where the celebration of Easter will be truly joyous and filled with the same kind of wonderment that the Apostles must have experienced when they discovered the empty tomb?

 

What have I learned about my faith, myself, and suffering over this Lent?

Is my faith life stronger?

Have I progressed in my spiritual life since Ash Wednesday?

Do I have a greater appreciation for suffering and the benefits suffering can bear?


What lessons from Lent do I plan to carry forward into the Easter season and beyond?

I hope you will join me this weekend in reflecting on your Lenten experiences, whether you use my questions or come up with your own. This is a perfect time to do this as we make our final preparations for Holy Week and Easter.

Are there questions you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to see them!

I wish all our dear readers a beautiful Holy Week and a joyous Easter celebration!!

Categories
Crafts Domestic Church Ink Slingers Janalin Lent Liturgical Year

Playing Through Holy Week

Playing Through Holy Week

Holy Week is approaching and we are excited!  We love to learn along with the liturgical calendar and a good portion of our home religious education is done through play. 

A year ago in January, the peg doll craze hit our family when I started an online group that paints peg dolls and exchanges them through the mail.  We started out painting well known saints and over the course of a year also made Mass sets, Nativities, the Apostles, and our Easter set is due back shortly before Holy Week.  Since the peg dolls are our main characters in the reenactment of the Easter Story we thought we would share with you how we plan on playing our way through Holy Week!

Playing Through Holy Week

First we start with the Palm Sunday procession!  Here we cut a single sheet of green felt in half and then laid out “palms” and clothing which were also cut out of felt.  The people welcoming Jesus to Jerusalem are Old Testament characters we had on hand as well as the Apostles. 

Playing Through Holy Week

A wooden castle will serve as part of the Jerusalem city.  This scene is where Pilate is asking the people what they want to do with Jesus.  (Pilate was my part of the Easter set that we just exchanged so we had him available for photographing but the rest of the dolls are still on their way.) 

Playing Through Holy Week

Here is the castle again where we are recreating the Upper Room for the Last Supper.  The Apostles are not in order because our daughter was not home when I was photographing this blog post, but I can reassure you that all Apostles will be in there correct position according to the da Vinci painting during Holy Week.  I love that she took it upon herself to memorize the Apostles’ seating arrangement! 

Playing Through Holy Week

Praying in the Garden.  On the right you can see Judas with a soldier as the other Apostles sleep.  The background is a felt play mat that I made, originally as a Marian garden but covered over parts of to fit the solemnity of the scene. 

Playing Through Holy Week

Our last scenes will cover the final hours of Christ’s Crucifixion and then Resurrection.  We made a garden this year and will utilize it for Christ’s burial and Resurrection!

Playing Through Holy Week

In addition to playing with peg dolls we also will be reading one of our favorite Easter stories, Benjamin’s Box.  If you are familiar with the Resurrection Eggs this book covers the same principles but retold by a boy named Benjamin who takes mementos for his treasure box along the way.  We purchased a box from Hobby Lobby and transferred the contents of our eggs over to the box last year and it has been a big hit!  Children, boys especially, seem to be drawn to the special aspect of having a “treasure box.”  If there was only one thing I could keep to educate our children about the true meaning of Easter it would be this book and box!

Playing Through Holy Week

Our son is four and he found a larger stone this year to replace the smaller one that came with the eggs.  He wanted me to be sure that you saw the large smooth stone he found.

Playing Through Holy Week

The boy and his treasures! 🙂

Playing Through Holy Week

If you are interested in getting peg dolls of your own for your family here are some resources on getting started:

To purchase dolls that are already painted and by our very own Ink Slinger, Erika, click here!  

To join an exchange group click here.

To make your own without painting (much), click here.

And instructions on making your own Resurrection garden can be found here!  

 

Our family wishes you the most Blessed Holy Week and we hope you are inspired to play a little through it!

Categories
Catechism Crafts Domestic Church Erika D Faith Formation Homeschool Ink Slingers Raising Saints

Holy Week: Helping Our Children Walk with Jesus

Holy Week is around the corner. Do you feel like your children are ready for Holy Week? Are they ready to walk with Jesus? A couple of years ago, I had been stirring because I felt like my children were not really ready for Holy Week and the Crucifixion and, of course, Easter! Yes, we’ve been doing things all during Lent but I felt like now, they needed something more. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and the Holy Spirit gave me an idea! I say He gave me the idea because it was so perfect and brilliant that it could only be from God. So the next day, I put this together for our classroom! I am so proud of our children because they were so into our lesson as we talked about the days of the week and our Holy Week Journey to Easter Sunday! I really enjoyed making this and also loved its simplicity! What I wanted to accomplish with this was a visual of what Jesus, our Lord, went through during Holy Week. I wanted to help them walk with Jesus.
Materials:
3 pages of white cardstock
three laminating sheets (not needed but if you want them to last for years to come)
large butcher paper for the path (mine was about two feet by four feet approximately)
ink for the printer
glue/tape
Directions:
  1. Print all of these out on card stock. {this will get you to the link} If you don’t have cardstock, hen I would recommend that you laminate, I would recommend you do that so that you can save it to use in the future.
  2. Create a path, road, or something to that effect on a large paper to post in the room. Another option is to print these small and to make a file folder out of them and have each child make their own to take home {more for CCD or school settings}
  3. Glue/tape the days of the week down first at the top of your path/road.
  4. As each day passes, read the Readings for that day and talk about these stories by using the events cards.
  5. I placed stations at the bottom. You can purchase these here:http://www.catholicartworks.com/
  6. The little children walking the path are from http://www.thatresourcesite.com/
The road has the days of the Holy Week on top, and the events at the bottom of the road…leading from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection.
At the bottom of this I moved our Stations of the Cross {I bought those here}
I took this opportunity to review the days of the weeks with the smaller children:

 

Here are two other looks from different angles:

 

Then we used our little children Let’s Climb Closer to Heaven {from our school room door} found at That Resource Site to walk the road through Holy Week:

 

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Confession Faith Formation Ink Slingers Jaclyn Loss Prayer Respect Life Sacraments Testimonials

Walking the Way of the Cross without Samantha

I didn’t make it to Mass last year on Ash Wednesday. I remember seeing a Mass schedule on the door to the chapel at St. David’s as I rushed past. I had just been to visit my daughter Samantha in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She was 17 days old. She and her twin sister Hannah were born 8 weeks early. She had surgery 2 weeks ago and was in an isolet recovering well. I had to hurry to Round Rock Medical Center, at least half an hour away, to see Hannah during her feeding time. Then I’d rush home to see my 2 year old daughter at home and hopefully put her to bed. I went to bed as soon as possible because the next day it started all over again. As you may imagine, Lenten observance was not exactly on my radar at the time.

Five days into lent, at 22 days old they moved Samantha to RRMC and both girls were together. Ten days into lent, at 27 days old, Hannah came home. 23 days into Lent, at 40 days old, Samantha contracted NEC and passed away within 10 hours.

You can see how last lent was different. When holy week came around Father Danny asked us to carry the oils up to the altar. They had a special significance to us now, since Father Danny had given Samantha her last rites just hours after I baptized her. I didn’t know if I planned to go to Mass at all that week. I didn’t think I could handle being at the church so much. Mass was so painful.

As you can imagine, it was very difficult to relate to God at that time. All I could think about were those hours we waited during Samantha’s surgery to find out if she would survive. I desperately called out to God in my fear. I cried out to my Mother to beseech her son to heal my baby. I cried out and begged my loving and merciful God to spare my little girl. I never really considered that He might say no.

Now, every time I saw Him at mass I felt abandoned and alone. The security I knew before in my almighty God disappeared into a fear I had never known. This was a new world where my children could die. Where was God? “Where you there when they nailed him to the tree?” I saw myself holding my dying baby… were you there? The more I tried to consider Jesus’ sacrifice the more I wondered where his triumph was. My baby was dead! He let her die. Did Mary know my pain? Her son was God.  Did God know my pain? His son was coming home to Him, not away from Him. I knew in my intellect that God allowed His son to die so my daughter could be in heaven with Him. All my heart could feel was her absence.

All I could do was get my body there to the church and receive Him. Sometimes I could sing or pray, but mostly not. I could not feel compassion for my savior, only the pain of my loss. I could not feel the joy of Easter. Only the futility of my prayer.

It has been a long journey from that place. Writing about it now, the pain rushes back and I remember how God felt suddenly like a stranger. When Ash Wednesday came around this year it was a very different story.

A few weeks before Ash Wednesday, I heard a talk by Father Michael (a Legionnaire) at a Regnum Christi event, about many subjects, including hope. As he spoke about the power we have in our hope in Christ, I began to understand the implications of what he was saying. No one can ever take that from us. Not pain, not suffering, not death. I imagined myself again reaching out to God, and this time praying for my daughter’s soul instead of her body. He knew what she really needed. He knows what I really need.

On Ash Wednesday, I was really too busy keeping my children quiet to enter into the mystery of Ash Wednesday but I still thought back to last year when I was in such a difficult place. As I got out the coloring book and a snack for Hannah, I turned to God again in vulnerable desperation, but my prayer had changed.

During one of our encounters with Christ at Regnum Christi, we discussed a story about gratefulness and learned that some Jewish people thank God 1,000 times a day. We resolved to do the same for a week. As I started thanking God for the AC, my dishwasher, hot water, a breath, a snack, a cool glass of water; I began to see each moment I spent with Samantha as a gift. It was as if I had been looking at a negative of a photograph and it was finally in correct perspective.

One day last year on Relevant Radio I heard a priest try to describe our transition to heaven. He compared it to twins in the womb. They are so happy and comfortable in their home, and so content with each other. They play and swim and kick and love each other. But one day one of them is born. All the unborn twin knows is that her playmate is gone. She can’t understand what awaits her: a loving family and a life she couldn’t imagine. I felt like the twin left behind. Samantha was on the other side in God’s loving arms waiting to welcome me one day.

Later during lent I heard a beautiful talk by Father Jonathan about confession and about uniting our suffering with Christ. With each suffering we lift up to Him in reparation, we are spared some time in purgatory. I wanted to take advantage of every single chance Samantha had given me to draw closer to Christ. God didn’t allow her to die so that I could come closer to Him. I believe that whatever the reason He decided not to heal her, He is using this suffering for my good. I have given up soda for lent, and every time I want that soda, I practice relying on God for the strength, so that the next time I feel that agony of losing Samantha, I can turn to God instead of into myself.

With Holy Week approaching, I am now looking towards the cross. I heard a story of a woman who prayed the Stations of the Cross backwards. She said it was because someone had to walk Jesus’ mother home. Just as I had to go on with my life after my world seemed to end, so did she. Now every time I feel the agony of my loss, I am not alone. My Blessed Mother is there beside me crying with me. Jesus is there suffering with me so that Samantha could be in heaven and so that one day I could join Him and her.

I hope that God will continue to speak to me throughout Holy Week and Easter. I look forward to truly celebrating His victory over death which is the source of my hope that can never be taken from me.  Hope through gratitude, healing though Reconciliation, Redemption though suffering learned through fasting. Easter holds a new richness for me now.  It’s easy to praise God when you are spared suffering.  Now that I have walked the way of the cross I can truly celebrate the resurrection.