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Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Preschool: May

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

PRACTICE OF THE MONTH: complete the Hail Mary.

THINGS TO DO: Vase of fresh flowers for the altar for the month of May.

ARRANGE ALTAR: Have child decorate the altar. Pray the rosary before the Lady altar, make the 1st a big day.

A GROTTO: Make a little grotto in the garden for our Lady.

SCRAPBOOK: Add pictures of the Blessed Mother.

CROWNING OF MARY: On May 31st, try your best to have a little feast and a "Crowning of Mary."

VIRTUE FOR PARENTS: Trust in our Lady

PEDAGOGY: Remember that a cheerful attitude is good for body and soul.

SINGING TO THE BABY: Even hymns.

BOOKS FOR THE MONTH: A Life of Christ for Children,The Life of Christ by Father Isidore O'Brien.

HYMNS FOR THE MONTH: On This Day, O Beautiful Mother, Tis the Month of Our Mother, Magnificat.

DIRECTIONS

REMINDER FOR THE YEAR

We learn to pray by praying.

REVIEW

Prayers to be said daily:—

Morning Offering. Good-night prayer. Grace. First half of Hail Mary. Home-made morning and night prayers.

PRACTICE OF THE MONTH

This month will be a good month in which to complete the Hail Mary, as there will of course be a statue of the Blessed Mother on the home altar, and all kinds of devotion to her will be practiced.

So,—according to our regular system,—say with the child for several days the one line, "Holy Mary, Mother of God"; and after seven or eight days, add the second line, "Pray for us sinners now"; and again, after seven or eight days, the third line, "And at the hour of our death."

Once the child knows the complete Hail Mary, have him say it for regular night prayers. If he does not know it, go over all that was written in the sections for January and March, and keep on teaching.

NEWS FROM OTHER PARENTS

Little Patty was in the hospital about to have her tonsils removed. The nurse had taken her up to the operating room and she was lying on the table. In came the doctor with his big smile, "Now, my little lady, I''m going to put you to sleep." "Oh," said Patty, "if I''m going to sleep, I must first say my prayers." She pulled herself up, knelt on the table, blessed herself and in a clear voice said her prayers. The doctor that night said his own prayers for the first time in twenty years.

VISITS TO THE CHURCH

On your walks this month, of course, you will often stop in the church to say a few Hail Marys; and on these occasions you should let the child do his own talking to the Blessed Mother.

THINGS TO DO

On the altar in the house, have a small vase before the statue of our Lady. Let the child have charge of it, changing the water each day and putting in one fresh flower as often as possible. Let him say a few lines of the Hail Mary as he arranges the flower.

Arrange Altar

If the child is old enough, you should, of course, let him take down the statue every day or so, hold it in his hand, tidy the altar and arrange it as prettily as he can. If the child is a girl, it will please her to wear a blue bow for the month of May. If a boy, a little medal of our Lady, or a small blue bow on the lapel of his suit, will help him to be aware that this is a very special month devoted to the mother of the Baby Jesus.

Parents and any child old enough should say the Rosary, or at least one decade, before the Lady altar. Start this on May 1st; and make the day a big day. Have ice cream or cake. Do something to celebrate our own dear Blessed Lady''s May Day.

May Day

In Catholic Europe, May Day was originally a day for joy and parties in honor of our Mother Mary. (Read Tennyson''s "The May Queen.") Today May Day is a Communist anniversary! We Catholics should make it a point to celebrate the day for its original meaning. Go to Mass or Benediction. Have a party.

A Grotto

If parents are lucky enough to live in the country, it is a very lovely idea to make a little grotto in the garden and to get a statue of our Lady for it, or, if that is impossible, a picture. A large grotto, such as a father might build, is a thing that some families may plan for and work at, over a long space of time; but any children who once get the idea of the grotto, may make little tiny grottoes out of pebbles stuck into plasticine which can be easily molded into the shape of a sheltering grotto. They can also mold a little statue, very roughly of course—unless they are fortunate enough to have a little tiny statue. They will love all this.

Scrapbook

In the month of May several pictures of the Blessed Mother should be added to the scrapbook. Any sort of picture can be used here, except those of the Nativity, which should be saved for Christmas.

Crowning of Mary

On May 31st, try your best to have a little feast and a "Crowning of Mary." Nearly everyone can get a few flowers or leaves to make a little crown. The smallest child should be shown how to walk up solemnly and crown the statue of our Lady, either on the house altar or in the garden grotto. Meantime, the rest of the family should sing a hymn of the month of May. (See—Hymns for the Month.)

VIRTUE FOR PARENTS

Trust in our Lady. Parents will find that in all their troubles, when their children are sick and things go wrong, recourse to the Blessed Mother brings relief. She does certainly always seem ready to prove herself the mother of all children.

PEDAGOGY

Remember that a cheerful attitude is good for body and soul. It is hard to smile when we are tired out, but so wonderfully has the Lord formed us that the smile, because of the spirit that makes it, produces a change in the nervous system, so that the poor tired body begins to feel better.

If we can combine the cheerful attitude with a short nap or rest period during the day, then indeed do we begin a good work in ourselves.

The combination of the smile, brought on by the will power of the soul, and the relaxation of the tired body, gives new strength to body and soul.

SINGING TO THE BABY

Some mothers may be surprised at our insistence on hymns even for babies. One story must suffice. One of our committee began when her baby was nine months old to hold him on her knee every evening and to sing to him two songs, a nursery song and Tantum Ergo. The baby loved them and after a few months began to make singing sounds along with her. He is at the moment of writing fifteen months and so we cannot yet announce the final results, but he does like singing.

BOOKS FOR THE MONTH

A Life of Christ for Children,1 in five chapters (each covering an important part of our Lord''s life), makes a satisfactory book for mothers to read aloud to little ones or to use as a basis for telling stories about Jesus. There are several very fine illustrations.

Parents who want to read a large life of Christ, to inform themselves, so that as the baby grows older, they will be able to instruct him more and more fully, would do well to get for their own use The Life of Christ by Father Isidore O''Brien.2

HYMNS FOR THE MONTH

Our hymn recommendations are, of course, for parents themselves in the early years, but from four to six certainly children can learn to sing what their parents teach them. Assuredly parents would be more cheerful if they did a little singing themselves. For May suppose we try a couple of popular hymns:3

On This Day, O Beautiful Mother Tis the Month of Our Mother

The grand Magnificat of our Mother certainly should be recited if not sung by parents themselves in May. The English can be read in the Gospel of St. Luke, Chapter 1, verses 46-55. The music will be found in the Catholic Youth''s Hymn Book (page 169, with Latin words).


1A Life of Christ for Children. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print. A good substitute would be I Learn about Jesus by Mary Elizabeth Tebo, FSP, published by Pauline Books and Media (the Daughters of St. Paul), http://www.pauline.org for $8.95 in paperback and $12.95 in hardback. --JGM]

2 The Life of Christ, by Father Isidore O''Brien. Paterson, N. J.: St. Anthony Guild Press, Franciscan Monastery. [Editor's Note: This book may be hard to find. Other substitutes: Life of Christ by Bishop Fulton Sheen, and To Know Jesus Christ by Frank J. Sheed. --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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