Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Sharing the Triduum with children

It is important to bring the Triduum to life for children growing in the faith. When our children were small and not so small (in fact we still do a lot of this even though our youngest is almost 20!) we started on Holy Thursday with our family passover meal, reading at table the Bible story of the plagues and the Israelites escape from Egypt from Exodus then the story of the Last Supper. We'd eat lamb, unleavened bread, bitter herbs and roast egg etc and in the centre of the table, a chalice and more unleavened bread to use for acting out the words of Jesus at the Last Supper. After Mass we'd stay to watch (the time increased with age!) at the altar of repose. When we got home the house was silent. Reading and quiet talking only was allowed. We always had appropriate religious pictures placed on the wall.
On Good Friday we always went and still go to Stations of the Cross as well as the Service at 3pm. Again this is a quiet day although in recent years we have introduced watching the Passion of the Christ or other devotional programme. Between visits to church today the children make an Easter garden in the rockery and prepare the tomb. We place one of our crucifixes there and two home made crosses either side. The figure of Jesus is carefully removed from the cross, wrapped in white material and laid in the tomb after we return from the 3 o'clock service. On our table is a piece of thorn branch formed into a circle. We are fasting and abstaining and our evening meal together is a simple fish pie.
Holy Saturday is the most difficult of the Triduum we found. We know Jesus is at work and yet for children he is lying quietly in the tomb. Morning prayer is a must, either as a family or in church if this is offered. The purple ribbons we have had on our religious pictures and statues for the whole of lent are removed. Children are encouraged to spring clean their rooms worthy to greet the Risen Lord and Easter biscuits are made - I found a lamb shaped cutter which is much more appropriate than bunnies or even eggs. Later today parents can roll the stone from the easter garden, removing the figure of Jesus and leaving the white linen along with a small Easter egg for children to find on Easter Sunday morning along with other eggs left here and there in the garden (wrapped of course!) and/or inside the house. While children are in bed the house should be transformed - vases of daffodils, white ribbon to replace the purple and  at least one decorated Easter candle. They should know when they awake that Jesus has risen. If they have followed a Lenten pathway (see earlier post) it should have an Easter message added. Don't say good morning today, say 'Christ is Risen' Children respond with 'He is Risen Indeed' and/or 'Alleluia' If the family has been to the Easter Vigil then the celebrations can start after that. And what a celebration it should be! 

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