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Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Preschool: February

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

PRACTICE OF THE MONTH: Grace before and after meals.

VISITS TO CHURCHES: February 2nd comes the Purification (Candlemas Day). February 3rd is the Feast of St. Blaise The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes comes on February 11th.

LESSON OF THE MONTH: We receive proof that we should trust God, because He cares for us in so many ways.

THINGS TO DO: Continue scrapbook pictures of the Presentation.

A HOME ALTAR: Establish a home shrine.

VIRTUE FOR PARENTS: Trust in God.

BOOK FOR THE MONTH

I Belong to God,4 by Mother Lillian Clark.

HYMN FOR THE MONTH: Hymn of the Lourdes Pilgrims

DIRECTIONS

REMINDER FOR THE YEAR

We learn to pray by praying.

REVIEW The parents of children up to three or four years are reminded of the following:

  1. Be regular in saying the child''s morning offering with him.

  2. Make remarks about "Dear Lord Jesus," always with a reverent look and manner.
  3. Recite a little "good-night prayer" before sleep. If the baby is asleep as you put him down, murmur it anyhow, to form the habit in yourself.

  4. Remember that if you are living consciously in God''s presence, you will after a while convey that consciousness to your little one.

NEWS FROM OTHER PARENTS

Among the Connecticut group of parents (a group sponsored by the Parent Educator Committee), "there was a general consensus of opinion that the child should be made aware of God''s existence at a very early age, but views as to how that introduction should take place varied a great deal. One father maintained that the folding of the hands—the oldest symbol of adoration in the Church—should be the first step in teaching prayer. A majority of the mothers felt that the Sign of the Cross should precede anything else, one mother averring that she had begun to train her baby in the motions as soon as she brought him home from the hospital, so that by the time he was able to ''pat-a-cake'' he could also automatically bless himself. Others felt that if the mother made the Sign of the Cross and uttered ejaculations over the child''s crib at bedtime, he would begin at an early age to imitate her."

PRACTICE OF THE MONTH—GRACE For children from the age of three, say Grace carefully before meals:

"Bless, dear Jesus, the food which You give me, and please give some to all the children in the world."

After meals, say:

"Thank You, Jesus, for the good food You have given me."

Children love forms. So you must say the Grace with great care and reverence, and with folded hands. In teaching these little prayers, recall the value of learning a little every day.

VISITS TO CHURCHES

February has many beautiful feasts. On February 2nd comes the Purification (Candlemas Day). Have a blessed candle and light it for a few minutes on this day. Tell the story of the beautiful Mother Mary going to the Temple to offer thanks to God for having sent her the Infant Jesus. (Read the Gospel by St. Luke, Chapter 2, verses 22-39.)

February 3rd is the Feast of St. Blaise who will care for throats and tonsils and adenoids and help us to decide wisely what to do about them.

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes comes on February 11th. Parents may well take little children to pray before our Lady''s altar and ask her to keep them well, even though they cannot go to the shrine at Lourdes where so many sick people are miraculously cured.

LESSON OF THE MONTH

God''s care for us is the subject for February Last month we were reminded that the Wise Men showed great faith, and loved God, and trusted Him. This month we receive proof that we should trust God, because He cares for us in so many ways. He allows St. Blaise to bless our throats. Once He let St. Agatha (February 5th) save the people of Catania from an eruption of the volcano, Mount Etna. He sent His mother to Lourdes in the nineteenth century,—when religion was weakened by the attacks of unbelievers,—to work miracles, to cure people and to strengthen their faith. As each feast comes, tell the story of the day, stress the point that we must trust God, and say,

"All things work together for good Unto those that love God."

THINGS TO DO

Scrapbooks

For the scrapbook, pictures of any of the feasts mentioned can easily be obtained from Catholic stores or magazines. There are wonderful pictures of the Purification painted by great masters. One by Giotto shows the Baby Jesus holding out His arms to His mother in most lifelike fashion.

From a catalogue of University Prints1 you may select pictures. A few of these may be obtained in color. Ars Sacra2 also has good pictures. Thomas Nelson & Sons3 has several series of fine colored pictures. (www.nga.gov) sells postcards and posters of various art. Keep the religious calendars, clip Christmas cards. Go to local museums to see if they sell items, and buy used books that you can clip out the art.]

A HOME ALTAR

Every home should have an altar by the time the child is three years old. A grocery box, low enough for wee tots, may be used.

Let the little one take care of it, with the help of the mother, or of an older child. Have on it a little statue of the Blessed Mother and two vases or glasses for flowers. The value of such a little shrine is nowadays often overlooked. In some homes a niche can be found and used for this purpose. In a very handsome apartment in New York City''s fashionable East Side, one of our mothers recently was pleasantly surprised to see a niche containing a lovely statue of our Blessed Lady and before it a votive lamp burning. The daughter of the home, a young college girl, attended to the lamp, kept the wicks fresh, etc.

The effect of an altar in the home is beautifully described in a book, The Education of Catholic Girls, by Mother Janet Erskine Stuart, who says:

An altar or a nursery shrine . . . gives a tone of joy and heavenliness that go down into the soul and take root there to grow into something lasting and beautiful. There are flowers to be brought, and lights, and small processions, and evening recollection with quietness of devotion, with the realization of the ''great cloud of witnesses'' who are around to make play safe and holy, and there is through it all the gracious call to things higher, to be strong, to be unselfish, to be self-controlled, to be worthy of these protectors and friends in heaven.

Mother Stuart''s mention of the "cloud of witnesses" reminds us that at an early age the child should be told about the angels and saints that are with us in spirit when we pray. (In October and November we shall say more on this topic.)

PEDAGOGY FOR PARENTS

Children of three easily learn to carry things without breaking them; so you should allow them to help in small ways every day. A low altar gives the child a good chance to take care of things by himself. If the altar is too high, of course, there will be accidents.

VIRTUE FOR PARENTS

Trust in God. Recall that the virtue of hope means an expectation of receiving from God all we need to make progress to Heaven. If you give all you have to God, He gives you all that you need.

BOOK FOR THE MONTH

I Belong to God,4 by Mother Lillian Clark, is a charming book, with fascinating illustrations. It tells children how true it is that they are God''s own children. All mothers should read the book and retell it or read it to their children, as the little ones become old enough. Mother Clark is a nun in the Cenacle, a convent which brings thousands of women and girls together for retreats each year. [Editor's Note: Book may be obtained from Neumann Press.]

HYMN FOR THE MONTH

Since in this month we have both the Feast of the Purification and the Feast of Lourdes, we ought to have the family singing a hymn to our Blessed Lady. You may choose one from any hymn book you have. The Hymn of the Lourdes Pilgrims5 with its chorus made famous by the chanting of the pilgrims at Lourdes is suitable for this month.


1 The University Prints, Newton, Mass.

2 Ars Sacra, New York City.

3 Thomas Nelson & Sons, New York City.

[Editor's Note: These companies in footnotes 1-3 are no longer in existence. Be creative in where you can find various sources for beautiful artwork. To start, the National Gallery of Art (www.nga.gov) sells postcards and posters of various art. Keep the religious calendars, clip Christmas cards. Go to local museums to see if they sell items, and buy used books that you can clip out the art. --JGM]

4 I Belong to God, by Mother Lillian Clark. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. [Editor's Note: There are a variety of early age religious books available in print. One publisher, Pauline Books and Media (the Daughters of St. Paul), http://www.pauline.org has quite a variety. See also the St. Joseph Picture Books, by Father Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D., published by Catholic Book Publishing Company. --JGM]

5 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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