Sunday, March 9, 2014

It's Not Too Late to Bury Those Alleluias

Yesterday, I shared how we may pray, fast, give... and listen this LENT with 14+ activity ideas that we have observed during this season with in the past.  Today, I wanted to spotlight one of those activities, which is a quick, easy and appropriate one for the first Sunday in Lent (if you didn't do it just before Lent started):

Burying Alleluia

In Catholic churches, we do not sing the Alleluia during Lent.  (A concise explanation as to why can be found at Catholicism.About.Com.)  Therefore a custom has developed in some churches and homes of "burying the Alleluia".  This custom can be as formal or as simple as you like.  (In our home, it always leans toward the latter!)

Since I was sick the day before Lent this year, but the kids really wanted to make their Alleluia banners, I kept things simple.  I let each child pick a font, printed out giant outlined letters, gave the kids markers and pencils, and set them to work.

At its simplest, you simply write the word "alleluia" on a piece of paper and hide it until Easter when you resurrect it.  

At its most formal, you create a fancy banner with the word "alleluia" on it, hold a formal prayer service and bury the banner in a casket.  

Most families, however, will fall somewhere in between if they choose to take part in the burying the alleluia custom, by using a well-decorated paper banner, an embroidered one or wooden letters.
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Even very young children can easily enjoy this activity.  This Alleluia banner was made by my kids when they were 1, 4 and 6.  That year, we used Do A Dot Art Markers to fill in and decorate hand-written posters.  The kids loved it and all of them were able to participate!

However you choose to go about it, burying the alleluia becomes a concrete aid for making young children aware of liturgical traditions.  As children make and bury their alleluias and then discover them resurrected on Easter, the concept becomes solidified in their heads.

And, bonus, the activity can encourage handwriting, spelling, art and physical activity as well as faith formation, depending on how you frame it!

Lat year, Luke practiced copying the word "Alleluia" before making his banner.  Gotta love gentle, purposeful handwriting and spelling work!

To encourage Jack's fine motor skills, last year, I wrote alleluia in bubble letters for him and he colored them with small pieces of  Crayola Color Pencil Sticks.

Sensory-smart "heavy work" plays in perfectly to burying the Alleluia.  For example, last year, Luke and Nina used their muscles to lift a mattress while Jack crawled onto the bed frame to "bury" his Alleluia.

Nina was so proud of herself this year after she wrote "Alleluia" two times on her poster all by herself!  (She then used it as her "music" to sing along to the Sitting on Top of the Rainbow song on a CD we like.)

Whether you use a handwritten poster, wooden letters that you decorate, cardboard cut outs or something else to make your Alleluias, just by making them, burying them in your yard (if your lucky enough not have frozen ground like us!), in a closet, in a box on the Liturgical table, or even out in deep snow and then resurrecting them on Easter, you can help the young children in your life begin to "get" the Catholic tradition of refraining from singing "Alleluia" during Lent.

(And, of course, please forgive me from using the word so often during this post even though Lent has already begun.  It just didn't seem right to say "the A-word" and I wanted to spotlight this activity today as it makes a great tie-in before or after Mass for helping children notice the changes in the liturgy during Lent.)

What other Lenten traditions help young children in your life to understand and grow in faith?  Feel free to share about them here in a comment or on our Training Happy Hearts Facebook page.  If you leave a link to an idea, I will pin it on the Training Happy Hearts: A Call to Faith Formation in Young Children Pinterest board.


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