Being a Catholic mom in the age of Instagram and Pinterest can be hard sometimes. You see all these moms who go all out for every feast day, and you feel inadequate about your lack of liturgically themed crafts. (Or is that just me?)
It helps me to remember that previous generations raised great Catholic kids without all these bells and whistles. My parents, for example, raised 7 children, all of whom are still practicing Catholics — and there was nary a liturgical cupcake in sight.
So I’d like to pass on the very best advice I ever heard about celebrating Holy Week, Easter, and other major feasts with children:
Make sure they know the story.
That’s it. Make sure your children know the story. Make sure they know that God became Man and died for them, to open the gates of Heaven so they could join him there someday, because he loves them more than they can imagine. That’s all you really need to do.
One way to do this is to read picture books about the first Easter, and that’s what I recommend for the littlest crew. For older kids, I like to read the Mass readings together at home, so the kids have some time to think and pray about them in a calm and private setting. (It’s so easy for them to tune out the readings at Mass.)
These conversations are especially important during the Paschal Triduum, the shortest but most profound of all the liturgical seasons. Here are a few things you can do to help your kids understand the events of the Easter Triduum.
Holy Thursday is the day when Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, so this is a day when we talk about what Holy Communion means to us. Those who have already received mention why they are thankful, kids not yet old enough to receive share what they are looking forward to.
Another meaningful activity is washing each other’s feet, like Jesus did at the Last Supper with his disciples.
This year, I’m planning to talk with my kids about the Passover feast, so we also plan to watch The Prince of Egypt on Holy Thursday (and I look forward to telling them how I saw the movie in theaters when I was their age!).
If you live in an area with a lot of local churches, today is the traditional Seven Churches Visitation. That’s a fun and memorable way to honor the day.
We pray the Stations of the Cross together as a family on Good Friday.
We also venerate a crucifix: Each member of the household kisses the crucifix while praying “We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”
My kids help me make hot cross buns or a chocolate crown of thorns on Good Friday.
Holy Saturday feels like a long day of holding your breath, between the inhale of Good Friday and the exhale of Easter. Fortunately, there’s lots to do!
We’ll be cleaning the house and cooking to prepare for the Easter feast. We might sing People, Look East as a reminder of why we’re cleaning and making ready. (Yes, it’s a Christmas carol, but it totally works here too and fits the Holy Saturday mood!)
This is the day we traditionally dye Easter eggs. We talk about the symbolism of eggs as a sign of new life and rebirth.
We also enjoy some of the hot cross buns or the chocolate crown of thorns we made the day before!
In the evening, we read some of those Easter picture books and joyfully say “Alleluia! He is risen!” (I won’t be taking my kids to the Easter Vigil Mass, but if you do, I applaud you. Mad respect.)
That’s how I celebrate the Triduum with my kids. My approach to liturgical living calls for little prep and no stress, but still does the most important thing: making sure my kids know the story.
I’d love to hear how your family celebrates the Triduum, too!