Our Plans for Lent…We are Starting Small
Lent is only a week away and we wanted to share our plans with you. Over the past year I have read to the children the life of St. John Vianney and also the life of St. Therese of Lisieux. Both gave many sacrifices to Our Lord. St. John Vianney gave heroic fasting and mortification. St. Therese gave daily sacrifices also dear to Our Lord but they were of a different nature. They were tiny sacrifices but ones that also led to the heights of sanctity. While the life of St. John Vianney resonated deeply in my soul it seemed Our Lord was showing my children and I that there are many ways to please Him. Such was what we learned in reading about St. Therese and the little sacrifices she would give Our Lord with love each day. She spoke of little sacrifice beads she would carry in her dress. When she found something particularly hard such as being kind to someone she did not like, she moved a bead with her finger and did that which was difficult but out of love for God. In reading her story, I loved the idea of these sacrifice beads. I knew they would be different then Rosary beads as they would have to stay where you put them (see picture below). There is a time in everyone’s life for different things to help them on their journey. It seemed my heart was earning for something to help me with these daily struggles.
Something beautiful happened after we finished the book of St. Therese’s life. A package arrived with some sacrifice beads! We had not asked anyone to send us these beads they just arrived in a box along with some Rosaries. It was clear they were handmade and had a little card explained how to use the St. Therese beads.
To receive these beads was as if a dear friend had read your heart and gotten you the gift you had been hoping for but had told no one. We were excited to put them to use.
A few days after the sacrifice beads arrived at our home a friend stopped by our house to drop off some handmade Rosaries. Our friend had recently suffered a terrible loss with the sudden death of her daughter. As we were talking I mentioned the unexpected arrival of the Sacrifice beads and gave her a string. She took the beads and felt they might help her. Later I would find that she began making some for friends. People at her work seeing her beads asked if she could help make a string for them. As she runs the little Rosary making group at our parish which my daughter attends, my daughter was able to make a few of these sacrifice beads. This week we went to the post office and the lovely women who took our package at the counter mentioned she had one of the handmade sacrifice beads from our common friend. This it seemed was only further confirmation that the time was right for these little beads. Not only were our hearts open to them but it seemed other hearts were looking for something to help them, too.
Requests were coming in for more beads. So we are now in the process of trying to make them. Well this is a rather long story to bring us to the place where we can share these beads and our plans to use them.
Why are the beads helpful? Well for me I find the beads are concrete. When something difficult comes and I have a split second to decide how I will act my mind goes to the opportunity to do something for God. A chance to move a bead for Him.
To look at the beads at the end of the day and see none moved is sad and there is the opportunity to reflect at what could have been done differently…opportunities lost. But then there is the next day and one is more ready to take each chance to make an act of love. In reading with my daughter tonight I found something that made a lot of sense. This is a portion from the book of Mother Mary Loyola (The Soldier for Christ):
“We cannot, then, afford to get into bad habits, the way to which is doing bad things once, twice, three times. It is much easier, I think to get bad habits then good. It may be. Yet we have this thought to encourage us – that by every good act we do, whether it is prompt rising in the morning, or forgiveness, or overcoming human respect, or checking impatience, we are helping to form a good habit. The effort will be less each time, and what was hard in the beginning will come to be not easy only, but pleasant.” The passage went on the share how very important it is to create these good habits young. “So Holy Scripture tells us if we train ourselves well whilst we are young, we shall keep in the right way when we get older, just as a well-trained horse goes,through habit along the right road without need of spur or bridle.”
So this Lent we want to begin small. We want to take our day and search in it moments to choose God. To choose to do that which is often the most difficult…being kind to those we live with and see each day. For myself it is always easier to be kind to a stranger. The thought of being kind to the person that drives me crazy, well this is much harder. But having begun using the beads I can see the beginnings of new good habits. They are new so Lent is a perfect time to make them more routine. The kids are also excited about the beads. For each person I have seen Our Lord will ask something a little different. My daughter’s first thought was to pick up some trash on the ground on our walk home each day from Church. I told her if she picks up the trash and says in her heart I am doing this out of love for you God, it is a beautiful sacrifice. Tonight she and I sat together talking about Lent and a few places she could try to target. There was a beautiful set of questions we came across in our reading together. Maybe they will help in searching for ways to move a bead.
We hope in the coming week or two to post a description of how to make your own sacrifice beads. We also are a bit new at making these sacrifice beads but are happy to share what we will make. Donations for postage are always helpful to keep us able to help more folks. If you would like a string you can email a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a few other things we will be doing this Lent including adding more saints to our list through 9 day novenas (see Saints invited to Join the Children’s Rosary). But our major effort will be with the small things each day.
Other Posts You May Enjoy:
How to Start a Children’s Rosary
Source: Children’s Rosary