Finding Christ in Lent: Virtue Detectives & Mary Gardens

As we approach lent, it is natural to turn our thoughts and prayers towards Jesus Christ. As teachers and parents, how can we use the season of Lent to best help ourselves, our parishes, and our families? One great way to do this is to practice discerning virtues. We have an opportunity over these upcoming weeks to look deep inside ourselves and examples in the world around us for strengths that imitate Christ, His Mother, and the saints. Additionally, instead of letting outside events or stressors direct us during this time, let us find solace in quiet gardens where His beauty surrounds us and constantly reminds us that He loves each one of us as his beloved children. Let’s explore these practices during Lent together so that successful nurturing can result from them!

I prepared the printables contained in this post as part of our parish’s Holy Heritage Day on Lent. I offer them here for your use as part of a free (or in the case of forthcoming books, low cost or pay as you’re able) Accessible Church School model that aims to help prepare the way of the Lord and to include all students in the faith. Please share this post and make as many copies as you’d like, but please link back here so we can continue the conversation! A lot of what I prepare is based on answering questions from my readers! Good strength to you all this Lent!

Virtue detectives booklet with children searching, magnifying glass with keychain of virtues


For this activity, you’ll need to print out the booklet (PDF below) and the virtue circles. Additional supplies (amazon affiliate links if you click them): Magnifying glasses, ball bead keychains, 1.5″ hole punch, regular hole punch. To assemble: cut vertically between the columns of circles to make strips of all seven virtues. Using the 1.5″ punch, place the circles face down so you can see the borders of the circle through the bottom as you punch. Make sure to use the small, regular hole punch on the bottom half of each virtue circle. If you’d like to preserve the order of cardinal virtues plus theological virtues in order of prominence (as they appear in the booklet), the order is: Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude, Moderation, Faith, Hope, Love. This allows children to look at each virtue attached to the magnifying glass without detaching the circles from the keychain.


Did you know that St. Patrick isn’t the only Christian to tell the story of faith using a plant? For many centuries, Christians have prayed and taught about Christ’s life using the memory aids of common garden plants. These gardens particularly focus on Mary the Mother of God, who of course witnessed all of Christ’s earthly life. In our parish, we started a little garden by planting locally hardy plants that remind us of Mary and her Son Jesus. We also handed out packets of seeds for households to take home to plant. While the following printout is great for us in USDA zone 10 (southern Texas), you can search online for traditional Mary Garden plants that grow well where you live.

Don’t forget also to check out my book Of Such is the Kingdom: A Pracitcal Theology of Disability, that shows how Mary Gardens offer several accessible ways to pray. Good Lent to all of you!

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