Lent and Easter
in the Domestic Church

The Lenten Cross

Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier

Page 6 in "Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"

This family activity is similar to the Jesse Tree used at Advent. The Jesse Tree follows both the family tree of Jesus and the history of the first Advent, when God's people awaited the coming of the Messiah. The Lenten Cross simultaneously follows the messianic prophecies through the Old Testament and its fulfillment in the Crucifixion narrative. It is a way to bring the Gospel narrative to life for children and to teach the whole family that God's plan for His people extends through all of history.

Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church

"Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"
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For obvious reasons, the Lenten Cross is in the shape of a cross. Proportions of four units by two units for the each cross piece and twelve units by two units for the upright gives a well-proportioned cross. Divide the cross into forty sections as shown in the illustration, leaving a large center section for an image of the resurrected Christ on Easter morning.

Your family Lenten Cross can be made of almost anything. Some options are: a banner with Velcro dots for fastening, a wooden cross with small nails or hooks, or a laminated cardboard poster with reusable sticky putty. Whatever your budget and ability can create will be welcomed as a new family tradition. Do not worry if you are not an artist; children are wonderfully tolerant of Mom and Dad's "production quality"! The images representing each daily reading can be painted on disks of wood, embroidered on small pieces of canvas, or drawn onto cardboard. For this article, I will call these small images icons.

There a few ways to add the icons to the Lenten Cross. An icon can be added to the cross every day as the reading is done, as with the Jesse Tree, or each icon can be flipped over from a blank side to the picture side after the prayer is read. A visually exciting idea is to have the individual images on one side of each icon and a large image, of Christ for example, made from the forty pieces, on the back of each piece. As the icons are flipped, a picture of Christ slowly emerges.

The Lenten Cross begins on Ash Wednesday, skips the Sundays of Lent (because they are not part of Lent—an idea that completely confused me the first Lent after my conversion), and ends on Holy Saturday.

The Lenten Cross adds regular Scripture reading and prayer to your Lenten observances, giving the interest and continuity of a developing story through the season. It really is the greatest story ever told.

Lenten Cross Readings

Day 1: Ash Wednesday: Even Now (Joel 2:12-13)

Day 2: Original Sin (Genesis 3:1-20)

Day 3: Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-12)

Day 4: Noah's Ark (Genesis 6:5-13, 9:8-11)

Day 5: Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:1-18)

Day 6: Jesus and Abraham (John 8:31-40)

Day 7: Moses and the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-21)

Day 8: The Covenant with Abraham and Moses (Jeremiah 31:31-33)

Day 9: A New Covenant (Luke 22:15-20)

Day 10: Two Great Commandments (Matthew 22:34-40)

Day 11: Forty Years in the Desert (Numbers 14:2-4, 10-12, 17-19, 33-34)

Day 12: Forty Days in the Desert (Luke 4:1-13)

Day 13: Jericho (Joshua 6:1-20)

Day 14: Jonah and the Whale (Jonah 1:1-4:11)

Day 15: Whom Shall I Send? (Isaiah 6:8-10)

Day 16: Trust and Rescue (Psalm 22)

Day 17: Prophetic Rule of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-8, 3:12-15)

Day 18: Story of Elijah (2 Kings 2:9-12)

Day 19: Story of Elisha (2 Kings 4:38-44)

Day 20: Loaves and Fishes Mark 6:34-44)

Day 21: Gabriel and the Anointed One (Daniel 9:15-24)

Day 22: Anointing of David (1 Samuel 16:1-13)

Day 23: Anointing at Bethany (Matthew 26:6-13)

Day 24: John the Baptist (Luke 1:13-17, 80)

Day 25: Prophecy of New Order (Micah 4:1-7)

Day 26: Fulfillment of All Prophecies (Luke 24:44-48)

Day 27: Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36)

Day 28: Entrance into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9)

Day 29: Zeal for Your House (Psalm 69:6-25)

Day 30: The Money Lenders in the Temple (John 2:13-25)

Day 31: Judas (Matthew 26:14-25)

Day 32: The Innocent Victim (Isaiah 53:1-12)

Day 33: The Last Supper (Luke 22:14-20)

Day 34: The Agony in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-46)

Day 35: Denial of Jesus (Mark 14:29-31, 66-72)

Day 36: The Crown of Thorns (Matthew 27:27-31)

Day 37: Scourging at the Pillar (John 19:1-7)

Day 38: The Two Thieves (Luke 23:32-43)

Day 39: On the Cross (John 19:23-27)

Day 40: Death of Jesus (Matthew 27:45-54)