Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Preschool: November
This section for the month of November covers the following areas: Practice: Continue with the teaching of the "Our Father." Lesson: — All Saints and Souls in Purgatory Things to Do: pray for souls in Purgatory, by name. Cemetery: Trip to visit. Visits to Church: All Saints,—November 1st, All Souls,—November 2nd, Thanksgiving Day. Virtue for Parents: Remembering the dead. Pedagogy: Obedience Book for the Month: A Child's Grace Hymns for the Month: Te Deum Laudamus, Holy God We Praise Thy Name.
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."
LESSON—ALL SAINTS AND SOULS IN PURGATORY In October we recalled that when we gather round the family altar there is present "the cloud of witnesses" mentioned by Mother Stuart, and among these witnesses there must be angels. This month we realize that not only are there angels present, but saints, and that perhaps among these saints there are some of our own relatives and friends who, though not canonized, are included among "All Saints."
It is a simple matter to explain to the children the meaning of All Saints' Day. And they will see that it is another day of rejoicing because so many people loved God well enough to become saints after they died. Be sure to make it a day of festivity. It is a good idea to get out pictures of some saints and also photographs of deceased relatives and say that maybe these also are saints of God.
From that "maybe" you can explain that some who didn't love God quite enough are kept waiting to be with Him, and that if we pray for them they can go faster to God. After the age of three, the word "Purgatory" may be taught as the name of the place where they wait to be made perfect for Heaven.
THINGS TO DO Of course the lesson about saints leads straight to the altar. Kneel down and say little prayers to the saints you know (namesakes, for instance) and then ask God to let the relatives go quickly to Him from Purgatory. It would be good to find out how many saints the children know, and to say a word of greeting to each on this, their general feast day. And then, of course, name all the dear dead relatives.
A prayer in the personal prayer book would be appropriate,—"Thank You for the saints."
And remember a picture of saints for the scrapbook.
Cemetery If the weather is fine, children of four and five can be taken to the cemetery. They usually take great interest and like to see the trees and the grass and the tombstones and figures of Angels. The first trip to the cemetery offers a splendid opportunity to explain that the body waits in the grave, but that the soul is, we hope, with God in Heaven or waiting in Purgatory.
Have the child kneel beside the grave and ask God to take quickly out of Purgatory any relative who is still waiting there to become perfect.
VISITS TO CHURCH All Saints,—November 1st. All Souls,—November 2nd. Thanksgiving Day. On Thanksgiving Day parents should emphasize the meaning of the day, and not let the feasting occupy all the thoughts of the family.
After Mass, if possible, it is a wise plan for the family to write out a list of all that they have to be thankful for. We should make two columns,—one for spiritual and immaterial blessings, and the other for business success and material blessings.
The tiny child will soon understand the plan and can be started off with a list of some of his own blessings. Trust him to enlarge on the list!
VIRTUE FOR PARENTS Remembering the dead. If parents make a point of praying for their departed relatives, children are impressed.
PEDAGOGY—OBEDIENCE In the remarks on tantrums in June, we touched on the essentials involved in teaching virtues to young children, and last month we listed some pedagogical watchwords to keep in mind.
Remembering these, let us work out some suggestions with regard to teaching the virtue of obedience.
First of all, let us realize that the time to teach begins at birth. Training in regular habits,—eating because mother offers food at a certain time,—sleeping because mother puts baby into the crib, says the good-night prayer and walks away,—all these early habits are giving the infant the custom of conforming to discipline, which is obedience of a kind.
As the child grows out of babyhood, this habit must be developed into conscious obedience, which means that the child obeys not simply from habit, but because he knows that he must obey and finally because he wishes to obey because he loves God and God has told him to obey his father and mother.
Gradual Training All this cannot be learned in a day, but it can and must be learned day by day.
The wise parent makes few rules, gives few commands, but insists upon their being carried out. A properly trained child of two has the beginning of the notion of obedience. Parents must seize the chances as they appear to teach obedience definitely. Suppose Mother says: "Baby, pick up the ball."
Baby laughs or pokes the ball further away.
Mother says: "No, bring the ball." Mother looks grave.
Baby brings the ball. Mother smiles, says "Good baby," kisses him and makes him feel happy.
Suppose that after two attempts baby does not bring the ball. What then? You may take the ball, put it into baby's hands and go through the motion of his giving it to you. Then bestow smile and kisses.
With a child of two it is usually foolish to fight a long battle the first time. Some mischievous tots think you are playing a game with them. It is better to distract them, push the ball out of sight, and do something different. In a few weeks try again. Do not make an issue of the incident. But make sure that after two or three trials you win. A smiling command will usually produce the ball. It must be clear that you are in authority.
Religious Motive By the age of three or four, you can make a habit of saying, "Jesus loves obedient children. He always did quickly what Blessed Lady and St. Joseph told Him." If you persist in suggesting such a motive, you will find that by four or five the child will make the connection between obeying mother and doing so because he wants to copy Jesus.
It is really beautiful to see how little children respond to the idea of copying little Jesus. They love to be like Him, provided, of course, they have been taught to love Him. And most encouraging of all, as the little ones grow up to be big girls and boys, they will often retain the ideal of copying Jesus, even though they never speak about it.
BOOK FOR THE MONTH A Child's Grace1 is a large picture book of photographs showing many good things a child has to be thankful for:—birds, home, clothes, toys, father's and mother's love.
HYMNS FOR THE MONTH Te Deum Laudamus2 is the greatest hymn of thanksgiving and praise. Holy God We Praise Thy Name2 is also a stirring song suitable for November.
1 A Child's Grace, by Ernest Claxton, photographs by Harold Burdekin. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.
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] and St. Gregory Hymnal, Singers' Edition. Nos. 264 and 39. Philadelphia: St. Gregory Guild. [Editor's Note: This is now available in two editions. GIA Publications, www.giamusic.com, St. Gregory Hymnal and Catholic Choir Book Compiled by C. T. Andrews, 1979 abridged edition of the original collection edited by N. A. Montani. For 2 and 4 Voice Choirs. Paperback G-2291 8.50, Paperback Spiral bound G-2291-S 9.50.
Also, reprint of the original by The Neumann Press, RR2 Box 30, Long Prairie, MN 56347, 800-746-2521, www.neumannpress. for $38.00. --JGM]
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Pre-School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938