To go along with a meditation on the True Vine this Lent, follow these instructions for a kid-friendly craft. 

As I wrote up my modified version of the True Vine meditation from Level II of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for RCIA, I pondered how to incorporate a craft at home. I’m giving a “What is Lent?” presentation to the RCIA, and I wanted it to be more than a laundry list of information. I wanted to dive into the true meaning of the season. Catechesis of the Good Shepherd materials and presentations always fulfill that desire for me. When I am stuck not understanding a Bible verse or a daily or Sunday reading, it is my formation in CGS (not just the formation weekends, but the ongoing work in the Atrium and in materials creation) stirring truths planted long ago by plethora people that brings the understanding of God’s Word to my head and heart. Hence, I started with a reflection on the True Vine. 

My RCIA talk and this craft are by no means a perfect representation of what it means to live out Lent. But, I think it does offer a visual of prayer and fasting as devotions that allow for growth and pruning that naturally lead to good works. To hear the True Vine meditation, go to CGS training this summer, or attend a parent meditation session for Good Shepherd First Communicants. You can also listen to an interview between a CGS catechist and a vine grower in California to really dive into the intricacies of Christ’s parable. 

The idea is to use the True Vine craft as your daily reminder to pray and fast so that good works (grapes) can be the fruit of those disciplines. Each time anyone in the family says an extra prayer or offers a fast, they can attach a grape leaf. To keep track of it all, or to plan it in advance, you can have the kids write down who they prayed for, what kind of prayer they said, or what fast they committed to. Then, you can use the grapes to mark the good works they’re able to do because of that extra spiritual dedication. 

How to Make Your True Vine Craft

  1. Grab some twine or rope from Dollar Tree. It’s $1.25 for 9.5′ this year. No good Dollar Tree nearby? You can wrap brown paper tightly like we did in our Sacred Heart craft for the crown of thorns.
  2. Cut out grapevine leaves. While you could buy some, eventually, you’re going to be writing on these, and paper is obviously a good material for writing on. Thankfully, I found the shape builder tool (after 20 years!) in Illustrator, so I’ve got grapevine leaf shapes for you in handy dandy PDFs. The leaf above is a jpg you can turn into a cut file for your Cricut or other cutting machine. The multi-leaf cut PDF  (Grapevine leaf 1-up outline) is made with just one leaf that prints out. But, if you fold your paper into 8 pieces, you can cut 8 at once without worrying that you might be missing some of the lines. Finally, if you’re having the kids cut them out for themselves, you can use the Grapevine leaf 8-up outline PDF. You can also just tell them to cut leaves, hand them green paper, and see what happens. For little ones who can’t write yet, I suggest leaves out of white paper so they can color a leaf in when they say a prayer or last all day fasting from something.
  3. Cut out the grapes. You can cut just ovals or circles, or you can do grape bunches. It depends on how you want to use them. For instance, I’m toying with the idea of donating to a different charity every day of Lent, with everyone in the family receiving a grape for their contribution. That would best be done with single grapes. But, if you want to emphasize the power of praying and letting God’s sap move us, you could do whole bunches at a time. Either way, here’s your grape bunch PDF: grape bunch 1-up or grape bunch 8-up!
  4. Optional: Run something golden through the center of your cord. If you’re using the Dollar Tree cord, you can untwist it and insert a long strip of something golden to represent the sap, symbolically the Holy Spirit.
  5. Explain your plan to your kids. My plan is to let my kids fill out the leaves with the name of the person they intend to pray for and the prayer they’ll use or amount of time they’ll pray if that’s applicable. They get one leaf a day for prayer. Once they’ve done it, they can put it on the vine. That way, we can look back and see all of the people and prayers we lifted up. I was thinking one leaf per day on fasting, too, but that might just be too many leaves. Then, when we give alms, we put up grapes. In some cases, I’m hoping we can even tally up the money we’ve saved by, for example, not going out to eat. Then we immediately donate those funds. What’s your plan?

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