40 Ideas for 40 Days – Lenten Activities: Declaration of DEpendence – Photos and Directions

Today’s idea is something that catechists of every grade level can take advantage of – I call it the Declaration of DEpendence. I originally came up with this idea when teaching about the Lord’s Prayer. It occurred to me that, with its seven petitions, the Our Father is clearly a prayer that expresses our complete dependence upon God. This is, of course, in stark contrast to the independence that we all strive for in our lives and the independence upon which our country was founded and continues to uphold.

At the time that I first came up with the idea, the movie National Treasure was very popular – a film about a quest to “steal” the Declaration of Independence in order to keep it from falling into the wrong hands (because of a supposed invisible treasure map on the back of the document). I purchased a replica of the Declaration of Independence (only $14.95!) to use as a visual in my classes and presentations. In the Lord’s Prayer, instead of declaring our independence from a king, we declare our dependence on a king “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”

In tonight’s Confirmation intensive, one of the mini-sessions will be on the Presentation of the Candidates. I thought this would be another opportunity to use this image of the declaration of dependence. The presentation of the candidates (and their “response” of standing up before the bishop) is a declaration on the part of the Confirmandi that they indeed wish to be confirmed and that declaration is, of course, one of embracing our baptism – the recognition of our total dependence upon God’s grace.

For tonight’s session, I took the image a step further, and actually created a Declaration of DEpendence that the young people will come forward to sign. Here are a couple of photos. Following the photos, I’ll explain how to make your own “parchment.”


Here’s how to make your own “parchment”

  • Any sheet of white paper will do. The thinner the paper, the better. I used a sheet from an easel pad (27 x 34)…nice and thin.
  • Roll up the paper and then slightly burn the edges (or if you don’t want to use a flame, just tear the edges). When you unroll it, you’ll have these wonderful jagged edges.
  • Next, crumple the paper up very tightly into a ball and then flatten it out. Lots of nice wrinkles!
  • to create the “aged” look (yellowish/brownish), pour coffee or tea over it (of course, place the paper in a large pan to collect the run-off).
  • while the paper is wet, take some instant coffee and sprinkle it lightly around the document. Let it sit for a while (so it begins to dissolve) and then take a sponge or a cloth and wipe/spread it around. Mine came out a bit splotchy but then again, I was aiming for imperfection! It adds character! 🙂
  • if you’re in a hurry, you can blow-dry the document. I just hung it from a clothes line (be gentle…it can easily rip when wet) and it dried very quickly.
  • once it is dry, you can add your lettering


Personally, I do not know how to do calligraphy. I just mimicked the handwriting from the Declaration of Independence and it turned out pretty nicely. The fine print states, “We, the Confirmandi of Most Holy Redeemer Parish, Evergreen Park, Illinois, class of 2009, do hereby declare our complete dependence on the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with our heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen!”

As you can see, I left lots of room for the “John Hancocks!”

40 Ideas for 40 Days
Download the PDF version of this activity.

40 Ideas for 40 Days
Check out all of the activities for Lent.
About Joe Paprocki 2748 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.

11 Comments on 40 Ideas for 40 Days – Lenten Activities: Declaration of DEpendence – Photos and Directions

  1. Joe, Thank you for all you do. We here at our parish have bought hundreds of your three books, The Toolbox, A Well Built Faith and The Bible Blueprint. We are using it for our basic formation for all catechist who enter our program. The books are wonderful and speak in a simple language that all can understand and explain to people at any age. Thank you for your Catechist Corner I have found it most helpful. Keep up the good work!

    • Janet, thanks so much for your kind words! I’m glad that folks are finding my books to be of help in their catechist formation! You keep up the good work too!

  2. Awesome Joe! Thanks for sharing. I love how the Holy Spirit reveals such awesome truth that we can all get our hearts around…God’s blessings!

  3. Great idea Joe! We have used a Declaration of Intention (Signed by each individual Confirmandi) at the formal beginning of our Confirmation preparation process and this would be a an ideal way to bring the concept full circle. Christ’s Peace to you!

  4. Loved the idea the way it is intended, but it springboarded into my son using the idea to age a map for a project he is working on in his class at school! You just never know! 🙂

  5. Dear Joe ~
    I used your five Rite of Confirmation reflections in our three-hour Confirmation Preparation Classes this month. I was thrilled with the results. The activities kept these 9th graders interested and engaged.

    Are you considering putting your class lessons into book form?


    • Hi Barbara and thanks for sharing your success story with us. I’m glad that you were able to adapt the Rite of Confirmation activities into your session. Collecting these lessons into a book is always a possibility…we shall see!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.