Children's Book Recommendations, Liturgical Living

Celebrating Holy Week

We’re about to embark upon the holiest of weeks in the church’s liturgical season, and this year, it is falling during a time of social isolation, leaving many of us asking, “How can I celebrate this week and still feel connected?”

I’ve pulled together a list of resources for you – a one-stop-shop, if you will, that you can return to throughout the week if this seems overwhelming at first glance. Maybe you’ll want to do a first glance though to see if there’s anything you can still order from Amazon. 😉 First, I’ll go through some ideas by the day. Then I’ll provide a bunch of links for free resources to keep you and your kiddos entertained, connected, and mindful this week. And then, at the bottom, I’ll give my favorite children’s book recommendations in case you can still get any of those (or can get them on Kindle).

Ideas for Holy Week
 
Palm Sunday
* To remember Jesus’ jubilant entrance into Jerusalem, we read the passage from Matthew 21:1-11. Since you probably won’t be able to get to church this year for palm branches, you can find any kind of branch or greenery from your yard to recreate this scene with your family. Wave them and announce, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” and even process around the living room or backyard. If you are unable to find any greenery, trace your youngster’s hand print and even go down their arm on green construction paper, and you have a makeshift palm branch! Place these branches on your table at dinner tonight.
* My favorite book to read today is Little Colt’s Palm Sunday. (You can save some money and buy from the used versions).

* Here’s a Palm Sunday coloring page from Catechesis Books. It’s titled “Excited”.
Spy Wednesday
* This day is perhaps a little lesser known or “celebrated” but it’s one that can still lend itself to some really good conversations. I got the idea from Kendra Tierney and her fantastic book, The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life. We all know that Judas betrayed Jesus for money, for thirty pieces of silver to be exact. So if you have kiddos in your house, I encourage you to hide thirty pieces of silver around a room (quarters would be best, but any coins you can scrounge up would suffice) and then let them lose and tell them whoever finds the coins gets to keep them. Watch to see if you have any little greedy Judases of your own. 😆 This is a great opportunity to discuss how easy it is to be tempted and to reflect on our behavior and attitude. Then we have a discussion on where we think our collected money should go… perhaps a charity? Or our church’s poor box? And then if they’ve had that beautiful change of heart, they can be rewarded with silver dollar pancakes for dinner. 😋
* (I like to store my 30 quarters in this leather pouch with my Lenten/Easter stuff each year, so I’m not scrambling to come up with them at the last minute. But you could also just cut circular pieces of paper for the project as well.)
Holy Thursday
* This is the day we celebrate the institution of the first Eucharist and the Priesthood, so be sure to say a special prayer for our priests today as they find themselves in the unprecedented predicament of shepherding a flock from afar this year.
* If you have a LEGO enthusiast at home, you might commission them to build a replica of the Last Supper.
* Jesus did something that shocked all of his disciples that night when he performed a job so lowly that it was reserved only for the servants. No one wanted to wash feet. Can you imagine the filth and the stench associated with that job? It was another act of humility that Jesus demonstrated when he lowered himself mid-meal and started washing the feet of his followers. Many churches practice this service and even the Pope visits prisons on this day to walk alongside Jesus in this act of humility, reminding us that there is no position too high for the lowest of tasks.
* Why not practice this at home before your dinner tonight? You can pull names out of a hat or delegate a different person each year to be like Jesus and wash the feet of each person before they dine. It might be awkward, it might be humbling, it might be ticklish. It might just bring you a little closer to Jesus.
Good Friday
* This is the most somber day of the week as we remember and reflect on Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion. I’ve read that some families wear black today, just as you would to a funeral, as an all-day visual reminder of the sacrifice of our Savior. The hours from noon to three in the afternoon are traditionally spent in quiet, or in some prayerful, contemplative state, as those are the hours that the Bible states Jesus hung on the cross. We respect that time and spend it in some sort of reflection. For some, that might be praying the rosary. For little ones, they could color religious pictures and look at Easter-themed picture books.
* I think one of the best ways to reflect upon Jesus’ Passion is to watch the film, “The Passion of the Christ”. Some people are quick to criticize that this movie is too gory and violent. I agree- it IS visceral and graphic, but it is a very representative depiction of what happened, and for that, I am in a humble state of awe. It is so much more than its violence though. The symbolic flashbacks to His ministry and the poignant moments from each day I’ve mentioned above give us glimpses into moments we read about that define our faith. (Obviously, this is a film I recommend only for adults and mature teens; it is rated R.)
 
Holy Saturday
As we wait in joyful anticipation for the Resurrection, this would be a great day to…
* dye eggs
* make a set of Easter dinner or dessert plates using this tutorial (Dollar Stores are still open to buy the glass plates!)
* make/decorate your own candles using this tutorial (Dollar Stores are still open to buy the candles!)
* print out the Let’s Chew on This Jar questions to share on Easter (and throughout the year)
* do any of the following I’ve linked below… 👇
More Resources

Catholic Family Crate has put together a fantastic “at-home kit” for you to download for FREE this week that’s chock-full of resources. Included are recipes, prayers, hands-on activities, coloring pages, cross-word puzzles, readings, and more.

If you are looking for a more contemplative reflection on Holy Week, Erica at Be a Heart, along with her spiritual director, has created a beautiful resource to download for us to do individually or as a family, encouraging us to Gather, Reflect, Pray, and Act.

Wee Little Miracles has designed her own Easter Story Wreath and made the printables available to download for free on her blog. Together, each picture and Scripture verse tells the story of Holy Week, plus Pentecost. The kids can color the picture that aligns with each event. We did this years ago, and I bring it out each year to adorn one of our doors or windows.

Shining Light Dolls has coloring pages and activity pages for this week to download for free. We’ve been working on their other free downloads the past three weeks. They also have these Egg Wraps which we’ve done the past two years which I love. Grab some wooden eggs of craft eggs (if there are any left from the dollar spot at Target) and these things just shrink-wrap right onto them in boiling water! They’re not only a great decoration but obviously fun conversation starters for some of the most inspirational stories of the holiest men and women that have come before us. And just like with Christmas… feel free to leave these out for a couple weeks after Easter, because it is still the Easter season after all. 😉

The Simple Saints has a beautiful printable banner for sale on her site that’s perfect for this week – one card for each important day, two lilies, a Resurrected Christ, the letters to spell Alleluia, plus a 5×7 print of the Risen Christ. It’s only $4 but you get an extra $2 off when you use the code BELOVED at checkout! YAY!
Books
If you’re able to get some books in time from Amazon, I highly recommend these. (Even if they came late, they’re worth the read.)

The Week That Led to Easter  (ages 4-8)
Colorful pictures and rhymes simply retell the events of this life-changing week.

The Creator’s Love Story (ages 4-10)
While you could argue it’s not necessarily an Easter book, this brand new book tells how the birth of a baby was all part of a perfect plan. While simple in text, the vocabulary could be appreciated by older children as well. (And it’s illustrated by my favorite water color artist on Etsy & Instagram, so go show her some love.) 💓

Margaret’s First Holy Week (ages 6+)
This is a chapter book in a new(ish) series about a fictional cat adopted by the Pope. Margaret gets to witness, first-hand, the goings-on inside the Vatican (and out) as they prepare for and celebrate Holy Week. This is actually the third book in the series of four, so be sure to check out the others if you have cat lovers in your house.

Alright, friends! That about wraps it up. I pray you have a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter. I hope some of these ideas encouraged and inspired you. This may be a very different Lent and Easter for us this year, but it doesn’t mean we can’t still feel connected to one another through our celebrations within the domestic church – our home!
(This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase the recommended books from these links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, so thank you. 😊)
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?'” John 11:25-26 (NKJV)

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