What a powerful and blessed week we have upon us!
I remember with great fondness the special traditions and liturgies of my childhood that made this week cemented in my mind as one of the most important of the year.
My mother simplified the household decorations during Lent. She used purple cloths to signify the Lenten season. She brought in a lilac branch part way through Lent so we could watch it sprout leaves and then decorate as an Easter Tree. We celebrated an elaborate Seder meal - complete with my dad and brothers wearing a yamaka; making matzo from scratch; and eating Lamb only this one night of the year. We remained fairly quiet and didn't shop or work much during the early afternoon hours of Good Friday. We attended church services throughout the Triduum leading up to the glorious Easter morning mass. In the good old days of cluster life, the neighborhood children paraded in our Easter finest up and down the block...think "Easter Parade" from the movie Holiday Inn. We really did that! The fine china and silver came out for Easter brunch, the whole works. What a truly rich and holy time for our family and our life!
Carrying out some of these and other traditions has been natural to do.
One thing we add is a Lenten collection of money to donate to a cause or charity at the end of the season. This year, our hub is collecting money to go towards Servant Camp, the week long summer camp of our branch of the People of Praise.
We are also memorizing a Scripture verse together, Psalm 23. Shellee found a wonderful book to accompany our learning of the Psalm. It is written by a modern day shepherd and he describes each verse as it actually relates to the life of a shepherd and his care for his flock. What a great way to make Scripture come alive and mean something.
I discovered a new item I think I will purchase for next year - an Easter ornament tree with an accompanying booklet of devotions. Find it here at Etsy.com. We know the women who make this tree - moms from St. Paul with children who attend my children's school!
Also of great importance during this time of year is the examination of one's conscience and a personal reflection of sin, behavior, thoughts and habits. I think for kids this can be a tricky thing to accomplish and explain. One idea I heard way back in my first women's group in the People of Praise is for one to recite 1 Corinthians 13, but inserting your name in place of the word Love.
Lucy is patient.
Lucy is kind.
Lucy is not boastful...
If I can't put my name in the place of Love, I may need to do some repenting.
So, aside from the candy and pretty clothing, which certainly has its place at this time of year, I think the richness of the feast itself and the events leading up to it can and should be incorporated into family life.
Don't you enjoy the company of a guest more when you prepare for his/her coming? When you understand and know better who that person is? When you can call that person your friend? When you can recognize the sacrifice that person may have made for your benefit at some point in your life?
How much more can we remember the return of our Lord to the earth and rejoice with the disciples and friends of Jesus, who saw him flogged, bleeding, gasping, and dying, but then also were able to witness his amazing and miraculous return to them.
What did that return to his friends mean? What does it mean for us? It means everything. It means we can say, "I chose not to love today, but I know I am forgiven and still loved by the Lord." We don't have to live in the crucifixion, in the hard and suffering and awful parts of our life and our humanity.
Instead, we get to live in the resurrection. In the knowledge and experience of the love of a dear and close Father and friend.
Children can come to know this with the practices and traditions of a holy week.
Give it a try!