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Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Preschool: March

Seasons

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

PRACTICE OF THE MONTH: Teaching the Hail Mary

LESSON OF THE MONTH: Story of the Annunciation and Visitation.

STORY TELLING IN GENERAL—Pedagogy

THINGS TO DO A little play on Annunciation and Visitation. Add pictures of the Annunciation to the Scrapbook.

VISITS TO CHURCH: On March 19th, the Feast of St. Joseph and on March 25th, the Annunciation

VIRTUE FOR PARENTS: Again this month, trusting God.

BOOK FOR THE MONTH: The Hail Mary,

HYMNS FOR THE MONTH: Ave Maria and Ave Maria, Thou Virgin and Mother.

DIRECTIONS

REMINDER FOR THE YEAR

We learn to pray by praying.

REVIEW

Parents of babies up to three or four are reminded of the morning offering, the prayer before sleep, grace before and after meals.

Be absolutely regular with these prayers.

Remember that habits formed in babyhood last through life.

NEWS FROM OTHER PARENTS

As an indication that very young children, if well trained, are aware of God, we tell the following story. Peter, aged three, was standing with his father one evening at sunset. The father was silent; and his face and attitude showed that the glory in the sky made him think of God. However, he said nothing. He felt a tiny tug at his hand and, looking down, saw Peter gazing straight ahead. . . . "God just went into His house," said Peter.

PRACTICE OF THE MONTH

As the Feast of the Annunciation falls in March, it is good to begin to teach the Hail Mary this month. The learning of such a long prayer may well occupy March, April, and May. Show the child a statue of the Blessed Mother or a picture; and tell him that one day a beautiful angel came and spoke to that lovely lady and said "Hail, full of grace." Encourage the child to say after you several times, "Hail Mary, full of grace." On succeeding days of the month tell the same story; and, from time to time, add a few more words of the prayer until you have finished:

The Lord is with thee, Blessed art thou amongst women, And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

The first part of the Hail Mary has four lines; and there are 31 days in which to teach them. Follow the plan of taking a certain number of days for each line.

LESSON OF THE MONTH

Most mothers want to tell the story of the Annunciation and the Visitation in detail, but some feel shy about putting Bible stories into their own words. The best plan seems to be as follows:

Read to yourself carefully the story as told in the Bible (Gospel by St. Luke, Chapter 1, verses 26-66). Then, if you like, read it again as told more fully in a Bible history, or a book of Bible stories.

After that, either read the story aloud to the child and answer his questions about it in your own words; or tell the story in your own words at once, and see how easy it is to do this.

STORY TELLING IN GENERAL—PEDAGOGY

For mothers and fathers who are puzzled about story telling, the following suggestions are added:

Every story, every book, every play that ever was written has three parts to it,—setting, character, and plot. The place, the surroundings, the general tone and spirit are called the setting. The characters are the people who speak and act. The acts which they perform make up the plot.

When you tell a story about bears or fairies, you always use these three items:—place, people, actions.

To tell a religious story, read it first and figure out for yourself the place, the people, the actions. In the case of the Annunciation, tell about the tiny town with small, atone houses. (Parents with plenty of time can find much detail in books like Abbé Fouard''s Life of Christ, which can often be found in the Public Library.) Explain that this story happened long ago when America was only a big forest.

Next tell about the best young girl that was ever born into this world; tell of her mother and father, good St. Ann and St. Joachim.

Tell how every Jewish girl of those days had a hope that, when she grew up, she might be the mother of the promised Saviour and Redeemer. Mary did not really expect that honor, because she was very humble. But,—and this is the great event of the story,—God chose her out of all the young girls in the world to be the mother of His Son, our Lord and Saviour. You may make the coming of the angel very exciting, if you use your imagination.

You can make the story seem personal to the child, by pretending that some little boys and girls of Nazareth are passing by the house of the best and loveliest young girl in the town. Through the window they see her kneeling, her face shining with love and joy as she looks up toward heaven. Then tell why she looks that way—because a bright angel from heaven, God''s own messenger, the Angel Gabriel, has just said to her, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee."

Explain that these words mean that she will have a Baby, the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of the world.

Chapter II of your story tells of the Visitation, and explains the third and fourth lines of the Hail Mary, when St. Elizabeth greeted her young cousin, our Blessed Lady, with the words:

"Blessed art thou amongst women, And blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Jesus)."

THINGS TO DO

A Little Play

If the family, at Christmas time, had anything like a little house for a stable of Bethlehem, it can be used for the house of Mary; otherwise any cardboard box will do. The children can furnish it with the furniture of a doll''s house, putting a little chair near the door or window through which the Angel can come in. A child will love to take a paper doll angel, let him fly through the window and say, "Hail, full of grace," to the little statue of the Blessed Mother, standing by the chair.

The Visitation can also be acted out.

Pictures

There is a vast amount of material for this month.

Everybody loves Fra Angelico''s "Annunciation." That and a picture of St. Joseph should be added to the scrapbook.

Visits to Church

On March 19th, the Feast of St. Joseph, try to take the little one to church and show him the statue of St. Joseph holding the Infant Jesus. On March 25th, the Annunciation, of course you will go to church and show the baby the flowers and lights around our Lady''s statue.

VIRTUE FOR PARENTS

Again this month parents should think a great deal about trusting God. The Blessed Virgin did not hesitate one second to accept the message of the angel that she was to become the mother of God, although she realized by her answer (St. Luke, Chapter 1, verses 29, 30, 38) the suffering that was entailed. Parents should recall that, young though she was, our Blessed Mother had apparently mastered the virtue of trust, said by some to be the most difficult of all. Remember that this means that we must accept God''s will and trust Him to take care of us no matter what happens.

BOOK FOR THE MONTH

The Hail Mary,1 a child''s pamphlet, explains in simple terms the meaning of the prayer.

HYMNS FOR THE MONTH

Two splendid hymns in honor of the Blessed Virgin are Ave Maria2 and Ave Maria, Thou Virgin and Mother.3

It is not expected that a family should have more than one hymn book. Several are mentioned in various sections of this pamphlet, as one may be used more than another in a given section of the country.


1 The Hail Mary, by Rev. Daniel M. Dougherty. New York: The Paulist Press. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print, but a good substitute series is the "St. Joseph Picture Books" by Father Lovasik, S.V.D. published by the Catholic Book Publishing Company. Also Pauline Books and Media (the Daughters of St. Paul), http://www.pauline.org have a "Learning my Prayers series" to help teach preschool age the basic prayers, including The Hail Mary, Our Father, Angel of God and Glory to the Father. --JGM]

2 St. Gregory''s Hymnal, Singers'' Edition. Hymn No. 220a. Philadelphia: The 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]

3 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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