Monday, March 7, 2011

Burying the Alleluias

In the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium where I teach, the kids are invited to color slips of paper that have the word "Alleluia" on them. (All of the alleluias are written in different type styles to encourage creativity.) We bring out writing materials not used during other times of the year, like gold, copper and silver markers, which they can use along with colored pencils and regular markers. The older kids are invited to write their own alleluias. 

The results are quite beautiful!  The kids take alot of time and care in preparing their paper alleluias.

We then put them in a special jar and bury them in the ground outside the church (weather permitting) or put them in an empty space under the tabernacle in the church.  They are removed during our special Liturgy of the Light ceremony on Holy Saturday.

This custom could easily be adapted to a home.  The FullHomelyDivinity website suggests decorating and burying an egg on Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday).  I like the idea of giving another purpose to those plastic easter eggs that are filling the shelves of the dollar stores right now.  You could write "Alleluia" on the eggs using a glitter glue pen.  I think I would also include a little surprise in the egg -- perhaps a Bible citation relating to Jesus' resurrection or a chocolate shaped like a lamb or butterfly.

Although we use paper alleluias in the atrium, I like the idea of creating something more permanent and reusing it every year. In her blog By Sun and Candlelight, Dawn uses wooden letters, which she painted in bright colors. She "buries" her letters inside a plain wooden box embellished only with a small cross.  Alternately, Ruth (who writes the blog Just Another Day in Paradise) painted her letters and storage box gold. How exciting it would be to uncover that box on Easter!

Be sure to explain to your children that we do not use the word "Alleluia" during Lent because it is a word that signifies abundant joy.  During Lent, we practice sombre remembrance of Christ's suffering for us, so using the word would not be appropriate.  If you need more background on this medieval custom, check out this link at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Patterson, New Jersey website

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