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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Thorns and Chains

Ems here--

Tomorrow (or today, depending on when you are reading this) is Ash Wednesday.  We won't be able to go to church because we only have one vehicle currently and Bri has work, but we will spend our time at home trying to do Lent-y things....The activities are a little bit crafty. Boo crafts. However, these are Ems approved for relative ease, fear not.

One activity that was introduced to me by a friend and that is fairly common in Catholic homes is the Salt Dough Crown of Thorns. Basically, you bake a braided ring of dough covered in tooth picks, place on a purple cloth (or a purple T-shirt) and make it the centerpiece of your dining table during Lent. Obviously, the ring represents the crown of thorns worn by Jesus, each toothpick a thorn, symbolizing our sins that are piercing His head and causing him pain.  Throughout these 40 days, the children pull toothpicks from the crown for every good deed or kindness they do, thus sparing Our Lord pain. By Easter, all the "thorns" will be removed and we decorate the crown with glitter, jewels, paint, etc. to celebrate the resurrection!

Yes, sometimes the day before Easter is rather frantic with good deeds to get the last of the thorns removed. It's sweet watching them rush around doing chores in preparation for the feast day.  In our home, you have to nominate someone for Thorn Removal. Before that rule we would have conversations like this:

"Okay, Mom, I just cleaned up three toys and then I didn't hit Gabe when he took a toy out and then I threw away a tissue on the floor. Can I pull out 5 thorns?"  Um, no. Maybe one.

Now, when one child notices another being kind (or if I do), we congratulate him/her and then said individual can pull a thorn. It gives the whole thing a bit more credibility and hopefully fosters the idea that brothers and sisters can occasionally "tattle" on each other in a nice way for a change.

Here's the recipe and instructions for the activity taken from (Catholics United for the Faith):

4 c. flour
1 c. salt
Mix flour and salt. Mix enough water to make a stiff clay. (A little warmth helps dissolve the salt.) Knead until smooth to remove any air bubbles. Roll three long ropes and loosely braid them. Form braid into a circle and stick toothpicks loosely throughout the entire crown (If they are embedded too deeply they cannot be pulled out intact.) Bake at 350° F for an hour or until it is dry and light brown.

Jules just shared with me another Lenten activity that I am going to do also, because it sounds so easy  rewarding:


1. Using purple construction paper, cut out forty strips (you will be making a chain, so whatever width you want).

2. On each strip, write down the names of family or friends or whomever you would like to pray for and remember during the season.

3. Make your chain.

4. Each day of Lent unhook one strip and see who you need to remember in prayer.

Tomorrow also marks the day I will be giving up soda (waaaaaaaa) and cutting back on baked goods (notice I don't give them up entirely. Girl not crazy). We are also trying to say a decade of the rosary after dinner. And then Phone Free Fridays.  So, sacrifices = check.

Anyway, y'all, have a wonderful beginning to Lent, and here's hoping that this weather gets warmer and warmer or I will not make it till Easter.

Easy Rule #4110: Lent is a great time to take the focus off of "self" and onto others--whether by good deeds or prayer.

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