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Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Elementary School: July

Seasons

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This section for the month of July covers the following areas:

REVIEW OF THE HALF YEAR TWO HOMES: Earth and Heaven THE WEAKENING FAMILY OFFSET BY CATHOLIC FAMILY: Grace of Matrimony, Solidarity PEDAGOGY: How Build Up Security SINGING AND MUSIC: Good Songs and Hymns, Song Sheets, Music and Liturgy VIRTUE FOR PARENTS: System of daily living

DIRECTIONS

REVIEW OF THE HALF YEAR This year so far we have talked of many things:

January: 1. The creation of a Catholic home. 2. The teaching of regularity.
February: 1. The fact that a virtue is a habit. 2. The duty of knowing our children''s friends.
March: 1. Teaching children by the example of our own behavior. 2. Giving the children good radio programs.
April: 1. The custom of speaking often about religious things. 2. Teaching obedience through our own firmness and consistency.
May: 1. Teaching the children to imitate Christ. 2. Giving the children good books and encouraging reading.
June: 1. Teaching the love of God. 2. Teaching the virtue of purity.
This month we shall consider the best way to keep the family united.

TWO HOMES—EARTH AND HEAVEN We have two homes—one here on earth and one in heaven with God. Life here is a preparation for heaven. The supernatural life we live here is a beginning of the life hereafter. That is why good people die without fear. They know that they pass to a fuller life with God. Can you make your home so lovely that it will seem to be like a little taste of heaven here on earth below? Say often to yourself that your destiny and your child's destiny is to dwell with God in perfect happiness. And say to yourself that your duty is to begin here and now to teach your child to live in God''s presence. When things go wrong in the house ask yourself: "Do we act as if God is in this house? Is this house a home, a garden enclosed, where children feel safe under the protection of loving parents, where one family dwells in peace and unity?"

THE WEAKENING FAMILY The family is the God-made unit of society, an institution so powerful that it has lasted since the beginning of the world. Today it is weakening. People marry on an impulse, never thinking that marriage means founding a family. Then they divorce each other almost as readily; the family is split, and the children suffer. Or else parents rush off on trips and leave children to servants or neighbors or even alone. Parents become bridge and movie addicts and desert their families night after night.

OFFSET BY CATHOLIC FAMILY Against this type of family, stands the Catholic model, founded on a sacrament established by Christ. Marriage for life with no divorce—on this rock is built the Catholic family.

Grace of Matrimony
That family can be a garden of the Lord, a place of boy and delight for father, mother, children. Since marriage cannot be terminated by man, even Catholic parents who have ceased to be enchanted with each other realize that they have a big job to make a success of the family, and that they can do so by drawing on the grace which God stands ready to give for the asking, grace in the form of courage and serenity and persistence in keeping the family happy and united.

Solidarity
The family must possess solidarity. It must be a unit. Each child must learn to speak with pride of his home and parents and sisters and brothers. The child lucky enough to find himself surrounded by a loving family has a sense of security which psychologists agree is necessary for a happy childhood.

PEDAGOGY—HOW BUILD UP SECURITY? How can we build up this security? How can we make the child feel himself one of the family group? A simple way is by doing things together. How many things can parents and children do together?

  1. Say family prayers.
  2. Go to Mass together.
  3. Kneel together at the altar rail for Holy Communion.
  4. Have family reading.
  5. Have family music and singing.
  6. Go on trips and picnics in a group.
  7. Clear off the snow, or rake up the leaves or weed the garden together (two or three of the family at least).
  8. Play games together.

We suggest that each family add to this list occupations in which the family can unite.

SINGING AND MUSIC On the subject of music and singing we shall say a little with special emphasis. Family singing is a thrilling experience to children. Psychologists today talk much about the value of community singing. Schools and colleges have glee clubs and the large cities have choral societies. Singing in a crowd produces friendliness and makes a bond of union among people. Leaders who get crowds together for a song festival certainly help to produce good feeling. Why then should not the family make use of this age-old custom and strengthen the bonds that unite them?

God gave us singing voices, and certainly children love to sing. In school songs and hymns are taught. Encourage the children to sing them at home too. Make it a rule to sing all you can with them. The tunes learned in childhood will never be forgotten.

Good Songs and Hymns
We have mentioned this year, The Three Kings, The Magnificat, Stabat Mater, and several other hymns. We hope the parents are trying to enter into the custom of family hymn singing, which can be developed into a habit which young and old will love.

Song Sheets
We trust that the popular song sheets do not make up the repertory of any Catholic families. Let us realize that the emotion aroused by a song has its effect on the child's character. The popular song sheets, set to catchy dance music, are many of them full of pagan ideas of love. "Love" in these songs means "petting"; and the poor child singing such things naturally thinks that love means what the song says. A high Christian notion of love, a great Christian virtue, is distorted, or lost, or never learned.

Music and Liturgy
The Pope wants us to sing in church the beautiful things of the Catholic liturgy. In the Middle Ages when the superb cathedrals were built in Europe, a very fine type of music was written and chanted. It is called Gregorian music. There is something uplifting about its tones. To go to church where such music is heard is a great privilege. We come away strengthened for our day's work.

Indeed in many cities there are schools where teachers are trained to teach this music to the children. In New York there is the Pius X School of Liturgical Music1 from which hundreds of teachers have gone out all over the country. The greatest music critics in the world approve of this kind of singing and if our children have the chance of learning it, by all means let us encourage them. The point is that if we help them to love good songs and uplifting church music, we train their musical taste so that they will feel disgust for the pagan, immoral songs so popular in our time.

VIRTUE FOR PARENTS Let us resolve these busy summer days to arrange some system about daily living while we have the children at home all day long. Only so can we preserve our calm and put into practice all the good things suggested.

BOOKS FOR THE MONTH In November we shall take up the Mass and the Liturgy. Meantime it would be a good idea to get some books on the Mass. For younger children we suggest, The Mass Explained to Children, by Madam Montessori.2 This is a book which parents should read slowly and carefully with the children at the rate of three or four pages a day. We suggest for older children, How to Understand the Mass, by Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, O.S.B.3 This booklet can be read and studied over and over for many years. It is a booklet to keep for reference. The Child at Mass is an excellent pamphlet.

HYMNS FOR THE MONTH If the words of the Magnificat have not yet been obtained, by all means secure them before July 2nd, the feast of the Visitation, the day when our Blessed Lady said to St. Elizabeth the actual words of that magnificent song. Read the English words in the New Testament, St. Luke, Chapter 1, Verses 46-55. For the music see page 169 of The Catholic Youth''s Hymn Book.4


1 Pius X School of Liturgical Music, Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart, New York City. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]

2 The Mass Explained to Children, by Dr. Maria Montessori. New York: Sheed & Ward. [Editor's Note: This book is back in print, published by Roman Catholic Books www.booksforcatholics.com/ for $14.95.]

3 How to Understand the Mass, by Dom Gaspar Lefebvre, O.S.B. St. Paul, Minn.: E. H. Lohmann Co. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]

4 The Child at Mass, by Rev. George M. Dennerle. New York: The Paulist Press. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]

4 The Catholic Youth''s Hymn Book, by the Christian Brothers. Page 169. New York: J. Fischer & Bro. [Editor's Note: This hymnal is out of print. A good basic hymnal for a Catholic family is the Adoremus Hymnal, available from www.adoremus.org. I highly recommend the Organ edition (for $24.95) so that one can accompany the song on the piano, plus the CDs can help those in need of more musical help. Another recommendation is Cantate et Iubilate Deo published by the Midwest Theological Forum. --JGM]

Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonica Byles, Paulist Press, 1938

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