Monday, February 20, 2012

Preparing for Lent: With Maple Syrup, Alleluia and the Runaway Pancake

When preparing yesterday's post about Letting Lent Happen, I browsed this blog to find a picture of our Lenten Liturgical Table from last year only to discover that there was none.  Certain that I had written a post that included such a picture, I dug a little deeper.

Ah, there it was in a post in “draft”.  It seems that due to my efforts to adhere to Luke's suggestion for my Lenten fast last year – less computer time – I never completed the post I had begun writing about our pre-Lenten activities.

Today, I am doing so, both to chronicle the fun we had last year leading up to Lent as well as to, perhaps, inspire you and yours prepare to partake in some meaningful fun as you begin to observe the important Liturgical season we are headed into.

Maple Syrup

By chance, a local homeschooling group planned a field trip to Matfield Maple Farm on "Pancake Tuesday" last year, which the kids and I had fun at …

To prepare for the trip, we borrowed armloads of books on maple trees and syruping from our library, which we ended up book-ending the trip with – diving into them as much after the trip as before.

In fact, the entire syrup exploration was so much fun that I had hoped to make it an annual tradition to explore different maple syrup operations right before Lent each year.  Seasonal by nature; tied to the Liturgical year through “Pancake Tuesday”.  The perfect annual field trip! 

So, I began thinking about where we could go:  Davell's Farm, where we bought delicious maple syrup a couple years back, Warren Farm, which is close to where I lived for five years when I was younger, or perhaps some of the traditional tours put on by the Audubon Society

Then, this year happened.  Unseasonably warm winter weather and an early Lent.  Looks like we’ll have to wait until next year for our tradition to continue.  Until then, if you've been on any great maple syruping field trips in New England or have recipes or maple-related activities to offer, please share in a comment.

Bye-Bye Alleluia

Last year, just prior to Lent, the children and I discussed the church tradition of not singing "Alleluia" or "Gloria" during Lent.  In simple terms, I explained why we usually sing these words and why we stop doing so as we prepare for easter.   Then, we made Do-A-Dots paintings of the words "Gloria" and "Alleluia" to "bury".  (Oh, how my children love Do-a-Dots!)

As we used our Do-a-Dot paints to make our posters, Luke was only too glad to say "bye-bye" to “Alleluia” since he has often found the singing of them bothersome to sensitive ears at Mass.  Nina, however, was greatly disappointed about the "loss" of these favorite familiar church refrains.  Thus, much to Luke's chagrin, she proceeded, to sing "Alleluia" loud and often throughout the days just prior to Lent, and, even sometimes during Lent (until Luke would remind her that we had buried those words).

And, where did we bury them? Not in the ground outside ready to uncover at Easter as I understand some families do.  Nope.  Our ground was too frozen.  Instead, we hid them in the depths of a closet, where, if embarrassing truth be told, we did not rediscover them until sometime after Easter because the clutter of that closet was so overwhelming.  (Since that closet has yet to improve all that much, perhaps this year's Lenten promise for Mommy should involve attacking it!)

In any case, the children (especially Luke!) enjoyed creating Alleluia and Gloria signs to bury and they also liked recovering those signs once we were well into celebrating the Easter season (especially Nina!)  So, I think this tradition is a keeper and one that we might enjoy later today or tomorrow.  And – wow – with the winter we have been having, we could even bury the words outside this year!

The Runaway Pancake

Finally, a tradition we have already begun again this year is listening to our favorite pancake-related story on CD:   Marsupial Sue Presents "The Runaway Pancake" .

In fact, this fun story worked a minor miracle in my opinion the other morning: 

Nina was having an unusually long tantrum which ebbed and flowed between whininess and full-blown screaming, crying and flailing limbs.  Since we had to get to an appointment, I was doing my best to remain calm, to ignore and, then, to try to redirect her behavior, but was having little success with it.  By the time we got into our van to leave for the appointment, I was losing patience and was not looking forward to listening to Nina’s outburst for the 40+ minute drive we had ahead of us.  So, I prayed – both to myself and out loud.

Then, over the din of Nina’s meltdown, I asked Luke what he would like to listen to in the car since it was his turn to pick a CD.  To my surprise, he abdicated his turn, offering that Nina could choose a CD “to help her be happy.” Choose she did and it worked!

As Luke and Nina spoke and sang along with The Runaway Pancake (and Jack chair-danced to it), the more common Nina returned – a joyful, playful one.

Hoorah for The Runaway Pancake!

Over the next two days, we will certainly be recalling this incident and talking about how prayer and giving played into our experience that morning.  We will also talk more about where the pancakes-before-lent tradition came from, and, of course, eat loads of pancakes tomorrow.

So, there you have it.  A year late.  Sharings of our pre-Lenten traditions-in-the-making.

How about yours?  I'd be thrilled if you'd share how you prepare for and observe the beginning of Lent in a comment.  There seem to be so many ways to help our young children to understand the significance of this Liturgical season.  When I am not overwhelmed by it coming up so quickly, I enjoy being inspired by them.

Sharing at The Alluring World, Catholic Icing and Equipping Catholic Families, where you can find so many wonderful ideas!


Discovering Montessori said...

I got a question that I have been dying to ask. My oldest attended the a Catholic private school and she was ust recently sharing with me why you can't say those words during lent. Unfortunately she has forgotten the reasoning why. Could you please share with me? I really want to help her remember. Five years as past she attended. Michelle still has very fond memories. Unfortunately the school closed. Schooling has been a issue of ours every since:( Thank you for sharing.

Martianne said...

Good question and one I answered for my kids after learning about it myself.

To save myself some typing, cut and pasted from

"The Alleluia comes to us from Hebrew, and it means "praise Yahweh." Traditionally, it has been seen as the chief term of praise of the choirs of angels, as they worship around the throne of God in Heaven. It is, therefore, a term of great joy, and our use of the Alleluia during Mass is a way of participating in the angels' worship. It is also a reminder that the Kingdom of Heaven is already established on earth, in the form of the Church, and that our participation in Mass is a participation in Heaven.

During Lent, however, our focus is on the Kingdom coming, not on the Kingdom having come. The readings in the Masses for Lent and in the Liturgy of the Hours focus heavily on the spiritual journey of Old Testament Israel toward the coming of Christ, and the salvation of mankind in His death and resurrection.

We, too, are on a spiritual journey, toward the Second Coming and our future life in Heaven. In order to emphasize that journey, the Church, during Lent, removes the Alleluia from the Mass. We no longer sing with the choirs of angels; instead, we acknowledge our sins and practice repentance so that one day we may again have the privilege of worshiping God as the angels do.

That day comes triumphantly on Easter Sunday—or, rather, at the Easter Vigil, on Holy Saturday night, when the priest chants a triple Alleluia before he reads the Gospel, and everyone present responds with a triple Alleluia. The Lord is risen; the Kingdom has come; our joy is complete; and, in concert with the angels and saints, we greet the risen Lord with shouts of "Alleluia!"

The Goria is sung on Holy Thursday because it is actually the end of Lent. Most people think Lent ends on Easter, but it actually ends when the Triduum begins."

Gardenia said...

Martianne, what a lovely family you have and a beautiful blog. Please send me your email address so I can send you the Shaking off the bonds of Stuff document. (you can just leave a comment on my blog, and I won't publish your email address.) God bless you!

Discovering Montessori said...

Thank you so much! I appreciate you taking the time to answer my question. My daughter is now researching more about this practice. Thank you again!!

Kayla said...

I love the idea of burying Alleluia and Gloria! I'm definitely going to keep that in mind once I have children of my own, and I'll share it with my mom for the younger set.

Home School Mom: Denise said...

You have a lovely family and blog Martianne! thanks for sharing - I'll put this one on my visit often list :)

Many blessings
Denise in Ohio


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