Sharing Holy Week rituals with my kids
Of all the things I learned from my mother, I think the best and most valuable is the power of prayer. We go through trials, and everyone has his or her own way of dealing with life’s challenges—in our family, it has always been through prayers, whether in Mass, rosaries, novenas or at the Blessed Sacrament.
My prayers are not always answered in the way that I would like them to be. But what is important is that I’ve always felt like they were answered. Sometimes the act of praying alone is almost like an answer already, especially when I am able to pour out everything that has been troubling my heart.
It’s hard to open up completely to anyone, but there is something truly cathartic in doing so. By the time I finish praying, though I may not have a clue as to whether I will be granted my prayer or not, I feel more at peace knowing I’ve turned over everything to someone whom I know will handle the situation in the best way possible for everyone involved.
As a parent, I’ve also come to appreciate my faith a lot. How comforting to have someone love my children even more than my husband and I do!
Just like everyone, I have been looking forward to this week for the opportunity to recharge, both physically and spiritually—and hopefully, find a way to use the time to teach my kids more about our faith, just as my mom did for me many years ago.
I hope my children grow up and find the same comfort in prayers as I do, but I have to start by teaching them the foundation of Easter upon which our faith is built.
I started last Palm Sunday. Of course, Adriana asked me to buy the palms that had pink crepe flowers on them, while Juanmi wanted those with blue ribbons. I explained the significance to them on our way to Mass, which was easy enough because it’s a happy event and, for some reason, it’s just so much easier to explain joyful things than sad ones to preschoolers. Maybe it’s because they are always happy about everything, too, that they can relate to all things pleasant.
Beginning Monday, I substituted the fairy tales at bedtime for Bible stories about the Passion of Christ. It’s easy enough to do this if you have a children’s Bible, where the stories are written in a way that the young can easily relate to and understand.
I suppose the concepts of love, trust, promises, apologies and forgiveness truly are universal and very simple when viewed through the eyes of a child. It’s only adults who make it complicated!
Then there are the beautiful ceremonies and traditions we observe during Lent. I would love to take my kids with me on my favorite Lenten tradition, Visita Iglesia, but I doubt if they can stay awake throughout the seven churches.
Perhaps the washing of the feet of the apostles will keep them interested, especially if I am able to cover and hype that story well during bedtime.
However, I dare not bring them to church for the Good Friday liturgical ceremonies that will only test their still developing attention span and patience, and probably disturb the others around us.
I think that the Way of the Cross might be okay, though to be honest, I am still trying to decide whether to try this or not.
On one hand, I want to start them young and early. But I would also like to use that time to solemnly reflect on the Passion as we go from station to station, so I will have to think about this a little more.
As a child, I remember staying home all day on Good Friday with my cousins in the province. We didn’t go to Mass as we were too small, but we understood the solemnity of the day due to the fact that we weren’t allowed to do anything—no playing, laughing or having fun.
It’s a sad day, my lola used to teach us. Thank goodness she allowed us to take a bath; she would say that, in the past, they were not even supposed to do so.
Back then, there was no cable TV, and the only thing to do was watch the local channels, all of which would be showing religious movies and shows. Some movies were still in black and white! Whether you liked it or not, you got a religion lesson.
However, with the advent of cable, this has changed, and now you can go through Holy Week without catching a single religious film. Fortunately, technology has also given us parents more options through ever-dependable YouTube.
There are many Easter videos for children online. You can find them and choose among many videos. Some are animated, some are the classic movies we grew up with. But what caught my attention was a video called Lego Holy Week.
When I saw the little box on the side, I couldn’t imagine how anyone could do it, but there it was. It is just a little over a minute, but accurately shows the events of every day of the week—in Lego form.
The video is short and simple enough even for very young children, and since it’s Lego, you don’t have to worry that it might be too graphic.
However, because it’s very fast and has no voiceover, you may want to follow it up with something that can communicate the substance of the events.
There were several interesting looking cartoons:
1. The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible—The Easter Story Part 1;
2. Beginners Bible for Kids;
3. The Easter Story for Children—He is Risen
Incidentally, I found another Lego video called The Stations of the Cross. It’s about three-and-a-half minutes long, but I like the fact that it is narrated and voiced over by a child. I think it would make a good intro to learning what the Stations of the Cross are all about for children, before they head off to church for the real deal.
Before you know it, Sabado de Gloria will be upon us, and while waiting to celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection and the egg hunt on Easter Sunday, I would like to give the kids a chance for some fun by painting some boiled eggs and decorating them with glitters, stickers and ribbons.
I usually buy plastic colored ones in the grocery and pack them with chocolates, but this year, I was inspired by all the cute eggs I saw online. I especially like the “Unique easter egg designs” slideshow on www.ehow.com.
I’m not sure how happy my daughter will be to eat boiled eggs on Sunday instead of chocolates, though. I’ll definitely have to have some treats on hand after they find the eggs.
At night, after the Easter Vigil, or early Sunday morning, there will be the traditional Salubong, and depending on whether the kids are still awake, maybe I will be able to bring them along to watch the Angel, as she lifts the veil of Mother Mary and signals Jesus rising from the dead and the joy of Easter Sunday.
Then it will be back to work for us, but hopefully, we will have renewed energy and faith to carry us through the year’s trials and challenges.
May you all have a blessed Holy Week!