40 Ideas for 40 Days – Lenten Activities: Bury the Alleluia

During these 40 days of Lent, I am offering 40 ideas (activities) to help catechists engage young people around the themes and images of this sacred season. Here is your next Lenten activity:


Bury the Alleluia

  • Write the phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” on the board and ask if anyone can explain what it means. (we miss something or someone the longer we are without it or them)
  • Point out that during the season of Lent, we do not sing the word Alleluia at Mass because it is considered an Easter word and that by not using it for 40 days, perhaps we will come to appreciate more just how joyful this acclamation is.
  • Tell the young people that it is a popular custom to “bury” the Alleluia as Lent begins so that it can be “dug up” once again on Easter Sunday.
  • Distribute an “Alleluia banner” that you have made (see http://eccdom.blogspot.com/2008/02/ash-wednesday-activities.html) and invite the children to color the banner.
  • If you have a large group, provide a “banner” for each child or for groups of 3 or 4.
  • When completed and if possible, escort your group outside to an area that has been designated by a parish staff member (DRE or pastor) to bury the Alleluia(s).
  • Tell the children that for the Gospel acclamation at Mass, instead of singing Alleluia, they will sing proclamations such as “Glory to you, Word of God, Lord Jesus Christ!” or “Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!” or “Praise and honor to you, Lord Jesus Christ!”
  • Make a reminder to “dig up” the Alleluia during Easter week.
  • Tell the children to notice how, when Easter arrives, we can’t seem to sing enough Alleluias!

40 Ideas for 40 Days
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40 Ideas for 40 Days
Check out all of the activities for Lent.
About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.


  1. I am teaching a group of parents of 8th Grade confirmands in a Presbyterian Church. We have been studying Lent and Catholic practices. They are very curious about the idea of burying the Alleluia during Lent. What is the role of the Alleluia in Mass during the rest of the year? Is it used every Sunday other than Lent? The other question we have is if the Sundays don’t count during Lent for fasting and giving up items, then why not use the Alleluia? Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated!


    • Adrienne, how nice to have an opportunity to dialogue with someone from the Presbyterian tradition. I applaud your efforts to teach about other Christian traditions. Allow me to respond to your questions.

      First, the Alleluia is sung as an acclamation before the proclamation of the Gospel at every Mass, except during Lent. We all stand and sing this Gospel acclamation – “the Alleluia” – as the priest or deacon processes with the Book of the Gospels to the ambo (the pulpit or lectern) to proclaim the Gospel.

      Your second question about Sundays not being a day of fasting and “why not use the Alleluia” is quite interesting and made me think. Basically, although the Sundays of Lent are not days of penance and fasting, they do indeed anchor the season of Lent and express the flavor of the season. While giving up certain foods during Lent is a form of personal discipline (penance), the “giving up” of the Alleluia is a liturgical practice and not a form of penance…it speaks to us of the nature of this season of Lent and builds our desire to celebrate the joy of Easter even more strongly. The burying of and “abstaining” from the Alleluia is part of the “ambience” of Lent and not seen as a form of penance or discipline. I hope this makes sense.

      Of course, as always, I welcome any other comments that can assist our sister catechist of the Presbyterian tradition!

  2. Dear Joe,
    Thanks so much for the response – my class will be very appreciative tomorrow morning! We too in the Presbyterian church refrain from using hymns/anthems with “Alleluia” during Lent. However, I had a sense that the Alleluia was a more integral part of your Mass during the rest of the year. Thanks for explaining. The distinction between giving up something during Lent as penance versus not using the Alleluia for liturgical reasons makes sense. This is my first year as a catechist so thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge.

  3. Hi Joe!
    I’ve only discovered your site today and I love it. I’m not a catechist, per se, but, as I do homeschool, I could also be called the ultimate catechist. I have to teach my own kids every day the Glory and wonder that is our Faith and Church. I love it!
    This idea is great, and I will be using it this Lent with my children, but as we live in an apartment, we will be altering it slightly. We will be wrapping the alleluia in a gift box, and keeping the box on display to remind the children of what we have done. Then, on Easter Sunday, we can open it as a family. The singing of the alleluia at Easter morning Mass is one of my favorite parts of the year, and I hope this activity inspires the same love in the hearts of my children!

    • Hi Bridget and thanks for your kind words. Indeed, parents are the ultimate catechists! Glad this activity will work for you and your family!

  4. I am trying to find a way to explain to my kids ( 8,7,5,3,2) why we don’t use the Alleluia during lent, on a level they will understand, but still stay as “true” to the facts as possible. Any advice?

    • Jaime, it really boils down to “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” We continue to acclaim before the Gospel during Lent but without the word Alleluia. Come Easter, when it returns, it means that much more to us to use this word. Does that help?

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