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Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Preschool: October

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

Practice — Continue with the "Our Father" Lesson — Angels Visits October 2nd, Feast of Guardian Angels, October 7th, Holy Rosary, October 24th, St. Raphael, Archangel. Things to Do — honor Our Lady of the Rosary and the angels. Virtue For Parents — Recalling the presence of God in their souls. Pedagogy — Watchwords consistency, regularity, firmness, patience, gentleness, and the habit of encouraging the child to be good for the sake of his dear Lord Jesus. Honesty — working on honesty in our children Book For The MonthChild Psychology and Religion Hymn For The MonthDear Angel Ever at My Side

DIRECTIONS

REMINDER FOR THE YEAR We learn to pray by praying.

REVIEW Prayers to be said daily:—

Morning Offering. Evening prayer. Grace. Hail Mary. Love and "Thank You" prayers. Acts of Faith, Hope and Love.
PRACTICE Continue with the teaching of the "Our Father" as outlined in September.

LESSON—ANGELS Back in February when we quoted Mother Stuart’s words about altars in the home, we promised to consider later "the cloud of witnesses" which she mentions as being present when we pray. Some of these witnesses are angels, invisible beings who are here ready to guard and guide us. Little children invariably love their Guardian Angels. The tiny child made aware of a protecting companion feels happy and secure at his play.

All month stress the care angels take of us. Say often the prayer that children love:

Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom His love commits me here, Ever this day be at my side, To light and guard, To rule and guide. Amen.
Tell the children that it is because God loves them so much that He sends an Angel to watch over them. Talking about the Guardian Angel a little every day, and of his presence, leads naturally to telling how God Himself is always here.

STORY OF MONTH A Study Group reports: "Perhaps the person who contributed most to this discussion was a woman who had been born in the north of Ireland and consequently knew what it meant to struggle for her Faith. For her the presence of God is so real that her method of teaching her children has been spontaneous, the children learning to take God for granted as ‘a Friend Who is always here.’ When her husband leaves for work each morning, she says to him, ‘God bless you and keep you safe until we meet again.’ When the children leave the house, even if it be to play in the yard, she always says, ‘God bless you!’ . . . Nearly all the members stressed the importance of referring to the Guardian Angel in teaching the presence of God. They felt that in this way they could more clearly explain God’s love and ever-present care for His children. Some were of the opinion that most children sense God’s presence all about them, while others inclined to the belief that such a realization came only as a result of certain spiritual experiences. It was felt that a child might first become aware of God as a Person, in a vague way, about the same time that he becomes conscious of the personalities of different members of the family. From then on, his understanding increases in proportion to the religious attitude common in the home."

VISITS (to Church) October 2nd, Feast of Guardian Angels. October 7th, Holy Rosary. October 24th, St. Raphael, Archangel.

THINGS TO DO With three such feasts as these, there is plenty for little hands to do to impress upon little minds the ever-watchful care of God through His Angels and Our Lady of the Rosary. The place of honor on the altar should be given to our Lady’s statue or picture, and for this month the child may hang a rosary round it. Angels, cardboard cut-outs, or dolls with cardboard wings sewed on to them may kneel or hover near the altar. Every day at some time the little ones should kneel and say reverently one "Hail Mary" and make up little conversation prayers to the Angels.

If the baby has no rosary, try to get him one,—an inexpensive one the loss of which will not be a calamity. It may be best to keep it in a pretty box on the altar.

A picture of the Angels by Fra Angelico would be lovely for the scrapbook. And for the personal prayer book, write, "I thank You, dear Lord, for Your love in sending me my Guardian Angel." The child can draw wings on the opposite page and color them.

VIRTUE FOR PARENTS Thinking with the children so much about the heavenly spirits and about the goodness of God in protecting us should help parents to deepen the habit of recalling the presence of God in their souls. It is a good plan to try to murmur an act of love to God every time we start a new task. And since the number of separate tasks a mother begins in a day is unbelievably large, it would soon come about that mothers would be turning to God very often. In this way the heavy burden of many a mother’s day would be lightened and her life turned from drudgery to happiness.

PEDAGOGY—WATCHWORDS Parents will recall that in August we gave some general suggestions on the subject of training children, and mentioned consistency as a watchword. If we add to that, regularity, firmness, patience, gentleness, and the habit of encouraging the child to be good for the sake of his dear Lord Jesus, we really have a fairly complete method of child training at our command.

We can attempt the teaching of various virtues by keeping in mind these watchwords, and using one or another as the occasion requires.

Honesty We have not heretofore spoken of honesty. It may seem unnecessary to talk of training pre-school children in such a virtue, but if we realize that virtues are good habits, we shall see that no good habit can be started too early.

Occasions arise for making beginnings when small children, from two to six, play together. One will take another’s toy and often try to carry it off. Gently but firmly the mother must say,

"Give back Donald Duck," or "Give back the dolly."

And of course the instant the little fingers relax their grasp on the toy, reward the child with praise. Tell him that little Jesus is pleased.

Mothers must be careful to be scrupulously honest themselves, in order not to give bad example.

Carfares Sooner or later there comes the question of paying carfares for children. In some places fare is required after four. Mothers who show their children how to slip under the turnstile after they have reached the age for paying fare, are teaching dishonesty.

Another crude form of dishonesty is practiced by the mother who pays one fare, but takes two seats, one for herself and one for her baby of two or three, when the car is crowded and tired people are standing. Some mothers fear to crease their skirts by holding the little one on their knees. The mean dishonesty of this sort of behavior penetrates the infant mind and makes a beginning of the habit of taking what you want whether you have paid for it or not.

BOOK FOR THE MONTH Parents interested in the subject of how to teach their children will find profitable instruction in a book called Child Psychology and Religion.1

HYMN FOR THE MONTH In October of course the hymn is Dear Angel Ever at My Side.2


1 Child Psychology and Religion, by a teacher of those who teach religion. New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons.

2 The Catholic Church Hymnal (edited by Tozer). Hymn No. 95. 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 Pre-School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938

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