8 Little Arrows in my Quiver

Reflections and Ramblings of a Happily Harried Mom of Many

Catholic “Resurrection” Eggs March 27, 2013

Filed under: Traditions for Lent and Easter — 8littlearrows @ 7:51 pm

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I always liked the idea of “Resurrection Eggs,” and the traditional Easter Egg Hunt is fun for the little ones, so I thought I’d combine the two, and give it a little more of a Catholic “twist.”  Get a little theology in while we’re having fun! ūüôā Our egg hunt has evolved over the years, from about a dozen story eggs the first year to our current 20.  I did lots of research, and kind of came up with my own adaptation of the many, many versions I found.  I found the most help here: http://cherishedheartsathome.blogspot.com/2010/02/paschal-mystery-eggs.html. (Thank you, Gae! I definitely like calling them Paschal Mystery Eggs, as there is so much more to the name.)

Last year, in the eggs, I just had small objects symbolizing the events from the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and we talked about what they represented, but this year I decided to include a scripture verse in each egg as well. With the excitement of the Easter treats, my children’s attention spans are pretty limited, but I really want them to hear scripture on a regular basis.  This way, they will hear the same verses year after year, and associate those verses with moments in the life of Christ.

We hide lots of eggs, but the Paschal Mystery eggs have numbers on them, so the kids know they are special.  After all the eggs have been found, we collect the numbered ones and sit around the table.  I open each egg and show the kids the object.  First, I let them guess what the object represents. They really get into this, and compete to see who can remember first, and loudest! And this year, I’ll have one of them read the scripture verse on each little slip of paper. The whole process only takes a few extra minutes after all the eggs are found, but it definitely helps keep the focus of the Holy Day.

Without further ado, here is my version of Paschal Mystery Eggs:

1.Three dimes.  “Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What will you give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.” Mt. 26:14-15
2. A small piece of bread. (Representing the Last Supper, with a particular emphasis on the Institution of the Eucharist)  “And He took bread, and when He had given thanks He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.'” Lk. 22:19

3. Lego Chalice “And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'” Mt. 26:27-28

4. A feather.  “Jesus said to [Peter], ‘Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.'” Mt. 26:34

5. Brown embroidery floss with knots in it (to look like rope).  “When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.” Mt. 27:1-2

6. A small piece of a bar of soap. “So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this righteous man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ And all the people answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!'” Mt. 27:24-25

7. The last two inches of a black shoelace. (with the plastic end, it looks like a whip) “Then [Pilate] released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to be crucified.” Mt. 26:26

8. Purple fabric and a broken toothpick “thorn.” (Crowning) ” And they clothed Him in a purple cloak, and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on Him. And they began to salute Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they struck His head with a reed, and spat upon Him, and they knelt down in homage to Him.” Mk. 15:17-19

9. Cross. “So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha.” Jn. 19:17

10. Nail. “And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.'” Lk. 23:33-34

11. Dice. “So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.’ This was to fulfil the scripture, ‘They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.'” Jn. 19:24

12. Medal of the Blessed Mother. “When Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing near, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” Jn. 19:26-27

13. Small piece of a sponge. “After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfil the scripture), ‘I thirst.’ … so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to His mouth.” Jn. 19:28-29

14. Gravel. “And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, … and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; … . When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!'” Mt. 27:50-51,54

15. Lego Spear. “…[W]hen they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” Jn. 19:33-34

16. White fabric. “And Joseph [of Arimathea] took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock.” Mt. 27:59-60a

17. Stone. “And [Joseph of Arimathea] rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed.” Mt. 27:60b

18. Bayleaf, clove. “And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, brought spices, so that they might go and anoint Him.” Mk. 16:1

19. Empty egg. “And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; … the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.'” Lk. 24:2-5

20.Cotton ball. “And when He had said this, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9

 

“Lamb of God” — an Easter Basket Alternative March 18, 2012

Filed under: Traditions for Lent and Easter — 8littlearrows @ 10:40 pm

Our "Lamb of God"

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: I am blessed to have been raised in a Catholic home with parents who really worked to make the faith come alive for me and my siblings, especially during the liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent.¬† One of my favorite traditions¬†was our Easter pinata. It’s possible that part of the motivation for doing a pinata instead of Easter baskets was to save a little money and simplify a bit, since I’m one of seven children. But, our pinata was not just any old pinata.¬† It was a Lamb of God pinata. And we got to help make it.¬† My parents decided to make it a lamb because of the rich symbolism.¬† Now, granted, our lambs were never without blemish, like the true Lamb of God, but still represented him despite their occasional cosmetic issues.¬† So we would make the lamb, and then on Easter, after Mass, we would hang it from the beam in our kitchen and slay it with a wooden sword.¬†This may sound a bit morbid, but it’s easy for a kid to grasp.¬† There’s really no “dressing up” the reality of Christ’s Passion and death. This tradition gets across the point that we did participate in the death of the Lamb, by our sins.¬† It wasn’t just an incident in history perpetrated by the Jews and Roman soldiers of the time. The Lamb died for each of¬†us, and we received something exceedingly good.¬† Did I make the spiritual¬†connection when I was a child?¬† Probably not right away.¬† But the seeds were planted.¬† Not to mention, the times¬†spent making the pinatas over the years was truly quality time, and I remember talking about the “why” of the pinata many times, since we were the only ones I knew who did this at Easter time.¬† We have done Easter baskets some years with our own kids, but I have to admit that I much prefer the pinata.¬† We do usually have one Easter basket with a little bit of chocolate (who wants to wait for chocolate?) and a few items that would break in the pinata.¬† I’ve had a few requests for the “how-to’s” of making this work of art, so without further ado, here’s the list of materials and the steps required. The photos are from last year.

You will need:

*A bag of assorted balloons, containing both the long, narrow ones and the round.  (Not the really skinny ones that are used to make balloon animals.)

*Newspaper

*Flour

*Water

*9×13 (or larger) pan

*Whisk

*A large bag of cotton balls

*glue

*construction paper (optional)

*black paint or a black Sharpie

Our balloons, and a random baby doll which has absolutely nothing to do with the pinata.

You’ll need to blow up several long balloons for the body.¬† The number you’ll need will depend on how big you want the pinata, and how big you can blow the balloons up.¬† Our balloons were rather small last year so we ended up¬†using five long balloons. Make sure you blow them up to the same size, or your lamb will be quite lopsided. Then you need one round balloon for the head.¬† Do blow up extras because they¬† sometimes pop. Plus, the little ones enjoy playing with the balloons and that makes it easier to concentrate on the job at hand! Rip a bunch of newspaper strips, at least 2 inches in width.¬† Mine were wider, but it’s not critical.¬† Except that it¬†takes less time to cover the balloons with wider strips.

Making the flour and water paste - still too thick

Make a paste of flour and water in your pan.  It should be thin enough to spread along the newspaper strips without clumping, but not too thin that it soaks them and rips them.

Just right!

Spread newspaper on your work surface. Putting the balloons together is the hardest part.¬† It’s easiest to have one person hold them together while the other wraps a few paste-dampened newspaper strips around to hold them together.¬†I sometimes use a piece of newspaper that¬†is just a little shorter than the body and wrap that around the body, wetting¬†it with the paste and then adding layers of the strips. This helps keep the balloons together more quickly, especially is you don’t have an extra set of hands. Basically, the long balloons are stacked to form the body of a lamb.¬† We put 2 balloons on the bottom, one on top of those in the middle, and two on top of that one.¬† It should be a little wider on the bottom, so for the bottom we used the two balloons which were just a touch bigger than the others.¬† The round balloon can be attached by tying the tied end to the tied ends of the long ones, or you can use tape or string for this.

Drag a newspaper strip across the surface of your paste, and then slide your index and middle finger down on either side of the strip to remove the excess paste.

 

THe head is attached, and we've started to wrap newspaper strips to the body.

Another angle

The back of the pinata, laying on its side. Blue balloons are the top of the lamb's back.

Completely cover the pinata by putting the newspaper strips every which way until you have several layers.¬† Make sure you don’t do too many if you only have small children, or they won’t be able to break it.¬† I don’t have to worry about that any more with my crew, because this is one of those traditions that even the big kids still want to participate in.¬† The head is the tricky part.¬† In order to keep the head upright, you have to start a strip at the top of the head and stretch it to the back, anchoring it with a cross strip on the back.¬† After a few of these it will stay up.¬† When you have a layer covering the head, wad up a small piece of newspaper to make a bump for the nose.¬† Put it where the nose would be and cover with more strips to stick it on.

Our anchor strips to hold the head upright

Gratuitous baby shot. See what I mean about the balloons keeping the little ones happy?

Once the pinata is covered with a few layers, set it in a warm place to dry.¬† Last year I put it out on our deck on a little table.¬† Our dog looked out the window and thought it was another animal, and he wouldn’t stop barking.¬† Poor guy – I think he was traumatized!

Drying out on the deck

Oops, forgot the ears.¬† You can fold pieces of newspaper to make ears and glue them on with paste and strips, or I have sometimes used pink construction paper, which will then be covered on the outside with cotton balls. When the pinata is dry, cover the entire thing with cotton balls,¬†using regular white school glue.¬† If you want to go for a more realistic look, stretch the cotton balls so they are fluffier, and not round, and then stick them on.¬† The nose can be painted with black paint or colored with a black Sharpie before you glue cotton balls around it.¬† I sometimes draw black eyes with a Sharpie as well, but honestly, you can barely see them after all the cotton is glued on anyway.¬† Before you glue all the cotton on top of the lamb’s back, use a sharp knife to cut a slit about 6 inches¬†long (from the direction of the head towards the tail end)¬† The slit should be in the middle of the back, though, not too close to either end.¬† At each end of this slit, make a small cut sideways so that you can fold the opening enough to get the treats in.¬† You can disguise this later with more cotton, so keep the cotton and glue on hand for later.¬† Part of the mystery as a kid was not knowing how those treats got in there.

 

The finished product, hung with two ribbons on two separate pegs on a beam in my mom's kitchen

And now for¬†a slideshow¬†of last year’s “slaying of the lamb.”

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Crown of Thorns and some Lenten Links February 24, 2012

Filed under: Lent Traditions,Traditions for Lent and Easter,Uncategorized — 8littlearrows @ 10:39 pm

Our "Crown of Thorns" ready for the oven

We made our crown of thorns today.¬† This is a Lenten tradition we’ve been doing for years. It’s been a great way to teach the kids the concept that our actions now, good or bad, affected Christ then.¬† We make a braided wreath out of salt dough and stick lots of toothpicks in, and then bake it.¬† Then each day of Lent, whenever a child does any type of penance/sacrifice/good deed, they get to remove a “thorn.”¬†In this way,¬†they’ve just lessened the agony of Jesus, and offered Him consolation instead.¬†The goal is to remove all the thorns by Easter, having gotten in the habit of behaving in a way that honors God, and shows His love to others. The crown of thorns becomes the centerpiece on our dinner table.

In the past, I made the wreath out of bread dough, which is nice because it rises and gets bigger, thus having room for more toothpicks for our large family.  It is also easier to get the toothpicks out. However, by the end of 40 days, it tended to get moldy and dry, and even crack in half.  So this year, I found this recipe for one made from salt dough: http://www.cuf.org/familyresources/saltdoughrecipe.asp

ready to "roll"

making "snakes"

Braiding

Putting the "thorns" in while explaining that each one is one of our sins

All my helpers

I love that my son is using a toothpick for a sword, while his sister is intently putting them into the crown. That says it all!

I also have a couple more links to share with you.¬† I received a little postcard in the mail last week advertising “Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure,” a FREE resource¬†with Lenten activities for kids.¬† You just go to the website, plug in your email, and then you’ll receive emails three times a week.¬† There are audio and video presentations, coloring pages and puzzles to print, and fun Lenten traditions.¬† I’ve been doing it with my kids these last three days and they have all seemed to enjoy it.¬† Even my “big kids” have been getting into the coloring.¬† Here’s the website.¬† Check it out: http://www.holyheroes.com/

And finally, we will be¬†doing Ann Voskamp’s “Trail to the Tree,” which is similar to the Jesse Tree, but focuses on the life of Jesus, with beautiful artwork to meditate on.¬† Ann¬†is offering this beautiful booklet, complete with ornaments, for FREE download. ¬†I have been so blessed by Ann’s words — on her blog, in her Jesse Tree book, and in her best-selling “One Thousand Gifts.”¬† I am so grateful to her.¬† Please check out the richness at http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/02/what-lent-really-means-free-easter-devotional-book-to-make-a-jesus-easter-tree/

Stay tuned for more traditions as we get closer to Easter, like our “Lamb of God” pinata.