Lenten Sand and Thorns

Image credit: By Stefan Cosma (2019), Unsplash.com, CC0/PD

6 simple ways to help students sacrifice during Lent.

By Sheri Wohlfert

The season of Lent is meant to draw us in and change our hearts. It is meant to help us connect to the sacrifice and difficulty of Jesus in order to help us grasp the joy of our salvation. The tough part about Lent is that we are all pretty comfortable. We live in a world of upgrades and embellishments and convenience. With all the fancy things available to us, it can be hard to let it go and grab up some sacrifice and penance.

The beginning of Lent is great; it usually begins with hope and fervor but it wanes. I find with myself and with my students that after the new wears off Lent gets a bit overcome by the world. Here are a few ideas to add to your classroom Lenten journey.

Images are powerful. Sand and thorns are a vibrant reminder of the starkness of the season. Each week, a new kind of sandy and thorny image makes its way into the classroom prayer corner. You can use anything from a rose stem to a clipping from a rose bush to some thorny brush found in the countryside. Changing the jar from stones to gravel to fine sand each week also helps keep the focus on the 40 days Jesus spent wandering in the desert.

Lenten candle cross for prayer. Six votive candles in the shape of the cross are lit in a pattern much like the candles on the Advent Wreath. Each additional candle lit during the weeks of Lent serves as a reminder that Jesus is moving closer to his ultimate sacrifice and our ultimate salvation.

Sacrifice like the saints. Highlight a saint each week and help the students find a way to imitate their sacrifices in their own way. When students saw an image of St. Katharine Drexel’s tiny pencil, some gave up their fancy mechanical pencils for a week and used the short discarded pencils they found in the hall or in the classroom lost-and-found box.

Pencils used by St. Katharine Drexel, on display at the former St. Katharine Drexel Shrine in Pennsylvania, 2015. Photo courtesy of Pat Gohn. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Silent simple lunches. Once each week a group of students were invited to bring a simple sack lunch and eat in my classroom, observing silent prayer and Scripture reading.

Recognize the rewards. The rewards of Jesus’ sacrifices are too many to count, but throughout Lent we add to a classroom list of all the reasons we have to be thankful. Each Friday, students choose one of the items from the list and write a card of gratitude. Some are written to real people and are delivered, and others are written in the form of prayers which find a place in the prayer corner.

Quiet Monday. All non-academic conversation in the hallways is silenced on Mondays. Keeping quiet as students walk with friends to lunch, recess, or another class is truly a tricky thing. When they see someone they really want to visit with, they are encouraged to pray for that person silently instead.

Escaping some of the technology and inventive genius that makes our life wonderful and comfortable can have a meaningful impact on our hearts as we turn them toward Jesus this Lenten season.

Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker, and teacher who writes from Michigan. She uses her sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Sheri also writes at JoyfulWords.org.

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