INTRODUCTION TO WEEK SIX: FASTING/ST. MARY OF EGYPT
This week we are thinking about the theme of fasting, which is well modeled for us by St. Mary of Egypt. We will begin the week by learning about her life. Then we will discover what true fasting is, and hear what St. John Chrysostom has to say about it. We will study the life of St. Simeon the Stylite, who fasted from more than just food. We will learn why we fast for forty days, and Who we are emulating when we do so. On the last day of Great Lent, we will learn what Jesus taught us about fasting (so that we can keep getting better at it throughout Holy Week!). We will close week six with the story of Lazarus, as we celebrate Lazarus Saturday together, and look forward to beginning Holy Week!
Crafts & Activities for this week:
- St. Mary of Egypt was repenting of her sins during her time in the desert. What does it mean to repent, and how does repentance make a difference? Here’s a little object lesson that can help us answer those questions, using only an empty drinking glass and some water. Begin by holding the glass upside down. State that the glass represents us. Our “glass” is upside down when we are not living a godly life. When we are living life our own way, not God’s way, we are not doing what we should, and God is not able to fill us with Himself. Pour some of the water (which represents God and His good gifts to us) over the upside down glass. How well does the glass hold the water? It will not hold any of the water! Talk about how we miss out when we are not following God: like the upside down cup, we miss being filled with Him and the good gifts that He has for us. Ask, “How useful is this glass? Is it serving the purpose for which it was created? Is it able to give a drink of good water to a thirsty person?” No! Then turn the cup right side up, stating that repentance is a complete change of direction in life! When we repent, we turn our life around and begin to better follow God and live in a way that is pleasing to Him. How does that affect us? Pour the water again. What happens now? Water fills the “repentant” cup! When we live a repentant, obedient life, God is able to fill us with Himself! And how useful is the glass now? Is it able to serve the purpose for which it was made? Yes! It is full of water that a thirsty person can drink. When we repent and follow God, He will fill us and we can be a blessing to those around us who need Him! St. Mary of Egypt, pray for us that we will repent as we should!
- St. Mary of Egypt confessed her sins to Christ in the presence of the Elder Zosimas. We also need to confess our sins! Prepare for confession together as a family. Go together to church, to partake of the sacrament of confession. Being forgiven is a great way to approach Holy Week!
- Talk together about St. John Chrysostom’s quote about fasting, “Fasting is wonderful, because it tramples our sins like a dirty weed, while it cultivates and raises truth like a flower.” This quote really helps us think about how to tend the garden of our hearts! Create a piece of art using the quote. Ideas could include: color and decorate this printable page. Write the quote on a blank sheet of cardstock and hammer real flowers around it, allowing the petals to release their natural color into the cardstock (as demonstrated here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Hammered-leaf-and-flower-prints/). Make small button flowers that match those on your wreath (if you are using the Blooming Wreath countdown) and affix them around the quote, then hang the quote near your wreath.
- James 1: 12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” Together as a family, begin to prepare yourselves to counter temptation as Christ did: with Scriptures. On cardstock, print these Scripture verses (or find other passages) that can help against temptations, and cut them apart. Read them together. Choose one to begin to memorize as a family. When all of you know that verse by heart, move on to the next! Try to memorize as many as possible! As time passes, revisit previously-memorized passages occasionally, to keep them fresh in your memory. Be prepared to quote them when you feel tempted!
- Help each other think more about the story of Lazarus by acting it out together. John 11:1-44 contains the whole story. After acting it out, talk about how Lazarus’ family must have felt when he died. What about when he was alive again? What do you think Lazarus himself felt when he heard Jesus call him back from the dead? And what about Jesus? He knew what would happen later in the week. How do you think He felt, being this close to a death and a resurrection? Why do you think this happened at this time in His ministry?
- Practice folding palm crosses so that you can help if your parish makes them for Palm Sunday. Slender, long strips of paper work well as “practice palms.” If your parish does not make them, perhaps you want to learn how to do it! Here’s a simple tutorial: https://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Palm-Frond-Cross
Week Six — all in one PDF for younger children
Week Six — all in one PDF for older children