Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Elementary School: March
This section for the month of March covers the following areas:
Teaching by Example
Supervision, Choice of Programs, Radio Critics, Music, Effect on Study, Time for Radio
THINGS TO DO:
Stations of the Cross, Mystery Plays
VIRTUE FOR PARENTS:
BOOKS FOR THE MONTH:
Life of Christ
HYMN FOR THE MONTH:
In January we gave attention to the subject of creating a Catholic spirit in our homes; and we resolved to act like good Catholics ourselves, constantly aware of the Unseen Presence of God.
In February we considered the question of training our children in good habits.
PEDAGOGY—TEACHING BY EXAMPLE
This month we shall think about an easy way of teaching children the Catholic spirit; indeed it is an easy way of teaching anything at all. Even without thinking about the matter, we all instinctively follow this easy way in many cases. This powerful tool in our hands is the force of example. Children learn by imitation.
Most parents today know a great deal about the training of the body. We take great care to train the baby from earliest infancy in the habit of eating wholesome food. We give him correct habits of sleep and cleanliness. We take great pride in his increasing height and weight.1 This is good. We must, however, remember the child''s soul as well as his body.
The easiest way to train his soul is by having him imitate the good things his parents do. If Father and Mother pray devoutly, speaking and looking as if they were really in communion with God, the child will imitate them. If Father and Mother go to Confession and Holy Communion weekly, the child will go as a matter of course. If parents read their prayer books and follow the Mass carefully, the children will love to do the same. If Father and Mother are polite and dignified, the children will be gentle and courteous. We might name each Christian virtue and affirm that the child tends to copy it as illustrated in the conduct of his parents.
Parents as Models
Our responsibility, then, is very great. There can be nothing haphazard in our dealings with our children or in our actions before them. We must remember that we, ourselves, are their models, and that they will copy us. We can never afford to slip before our children''s eyes; constant vigilance is the price of success. And we must try to exclude from the house those people whom we do not want the children to imitate.
Suppose that we parents are resolved to try our best to be model Catholics and to make our homes as Catholic as possible. Would it then be wise or consistent for us carelessly to tune in the radio and thus let loose a stream of vulgarity, of coarse jokes, of suggestive songs or music? These things will teach the children just the opposite of what we are striving to teach. If we do not want our little ones to go around humming vulgar tunes, we must supervise the radio. The children will certainly imitate what they hear.
Supervision of the radio in our homes is then a clear duty of parents.
Choice of Programs
We should direct the choice of programs for the family. We must listen to the numbers the child tunes in. If they are vulgar or indecent, we can explain that such things are only a way of getting foolish people to listen to advertisements. Children soon understand that most sponsored programs are advertisements.
Adopt a critical attitude toward them yourself, and your child will not so readily believe all he hears on the air. If you find the so-called "Children''s Programs" unsuitable for little people, write to the radio station and say so. And be sure to get all your neighbors to write also. The program makers aim to please you; and if they insult your good taste by offering vulgar entertainment, they should hear from you. Always remember that they seek to please the public.
Magnificent concerts and operas are given in the large cities. To be present at these costs a large sum of money. People who cannot afford seats, will stand for three hours, just for the joy of hearing good music. Over the radio most of this music comes, without expense or trouble to the hearer. Do the children listen to it?
Fine music has a good effect on the nerves; it helps people to keep calm and reasonable. But remember that if children listen to vulgar music, to endless "swing" and "jazz," they will not have a taste for good music; and therefore, all their lives they will be deprived of the ability to enjoy one of the most beneficial of the arts. If they acquire a better appreciation of sound, they can learn to love the liturgical music of the Church,—about which we shall have more to say later.
Effect of Radio on Child''s Study Period
It is the general opinion of teachers in schools that the work of children is seriously hampered by misuse of the radio. To listen to the radio and at the same time to study lessons, is a physical and mental impossibility for most children. Besides failing in his lessons the next day, the child gets into a very bad habit of giving to serious things only a fraction of his attention. Later, even when no radio is playing, he finds it hard to concentrate perfectly. The parents must face this difficulty and work out some arrangement so that the children may listen to radio at certain times with no school work before them, and at other hours study with the radio silent. The combination of the two must be broken up.
A Time for Radio
To say "No radio at all!" would, of course, be extreme and foolish. But a reasonable arrangement of hours will satisfy the children after a week or two, if not immediately. As a final warning, let us repeat that we must not allow vulgarity and indecency to enter our homes by way of the radio. On the contrary, we must train our children to listen to and to imitate the beautiful things that are to be found on the better programs.
THINGS TO DO
In this time of Lent we can do many useful things. Following the Stations of the Cross is a splendid way of impressing upon children the Passion of our Beloved Lord. Try to have all the children say the Stations on each Friday, either at home or in church.
An excellent pamphlet giving beautiful prayers for each Station is Stations of the Cross for Children, with pictures.2
One of the best ways to gain a clear, vital grasp of the truths of religion, is to act out plays on religious subjects. As was said last month, in the Middle Ages plays called Miracle Plays or Mystery Plays, used to be given in the great cathedrals, in order to commemorate a particular feast.
Let the children select scenes from the Passion and act them. It is often better to have sacred scenes acted without words as it is sometimes difficult to find words sufficiently reverent.
VIRTUE FOR PARENTS
It seems unnecessary to suggest self-denial to Catholic parents whose whole life is usually one long process of doing things for others. What parents might remember is that we ought constantly to unite our suffering and discomforts, lack of sleep, anxiety, and all the rest of our daily hardships with the sufferings of our Lord. The crushing troubles of many a parent will be made lighter and easier, if the thought of the suffering Lord Jesus is present.
BOOKS FOR THE MONTH
Lent is a good time for beginning to read with the children a life of Christ. Try to read a chapter a day. For children over ten we suggest Jesus of Nazareth,3 by Mother Loyola. For younger children a beautiful book is About Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary.4 It is illustrated by very striking colored pictures.
The Hail Mary,5 a child''s pamphlet, explains in simple terms the meaning of the prayer.
HYMN FOR THE MONTH
If you can manage it, have the family learn to sing the Stabat Mater,6 the hymn of the Stations of the Cross.
1 For clear and simple advice on Child Training, two pamphlets, Infant Care and The Child from One to Six can be obtained from: Children''s Bureau, U. S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. [Editor's Note: There are many pamphlets and books available with updated information (these were from the 1930s) on how to physically raise children.]
2 Stations of the Cross for Children. New York: The Paulist Press.[Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]
3 Jesus of Nazareth, by Mother Loyola. New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons.
4 About Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, by M. M, and Robin. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]
5 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]
6 St. Gregory Hymnal, Singers' Edition. Hymn No. 23. 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]
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938