Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Elementary School: May
This section for the month of May covers the following areas:
THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE:
Imitation of Jesus
Reading the story of Jesus
NECESSITY OF READING
Difficulties in Reading
CHOICE OF READING FOR CHILDREN
VIRTUE FOR PARENTS:
Imitation of Our Lady
AN ALTAR ON THE HOME:
Setting up a home altar
CROWNING OF MARY
HYMNS FOR THE MONTH:
THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE
To teach our children to lead Christian lives requires some knowledge of the rules of teaching. But to keep learning and remembering rules is a hard, dull business which we should like to escape. Christ showed us how to get along in a simple way when He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." We have only to follow Him.
Imitation is,—once again let us recall,—the easiest way of learning. If we imitate Christ, no one can ask more. The way He acted is the way to act; the truth He taught is the truth to believe; and the life He led is the supernatural life we are trying to attain.
To our children, then, we can easily say, "Act as our Lord would act." Many mothers succeed very well by continually saying to children (up to about ten years), "How do you think Jesus would act? Don''t you think He would be kind and generous to His playmates?" Or, "Don''t you think little Jesus when He was six or seven or eight ran quickly when His Mother called?" If the children have been trained to love the Lord Jesus, they will respond to the idea of imitating Him.
"Copy Jesus" might be a good motto for the house to adopt for one month. Have the children make a resolution to act for one month as our Lord would act. If they keep records of their improvement, suggest that they check off each night how often they have "Copied Jesus." They may use columns with the following headings:
Obedient like Jesus
Generous like Jesus
Practiced self-denial like Jesus
Gave in to sister and brother
There are some of us who have only vague ideas as to the way in which Jesus Christ would act in daily routine. How can we find out His ways? In March, we gave the titles of two lives of Christ for children. Parents themselves would profit by a careful reading of a Life of Christ written for adults. (We suggest the one by Father Isidore O''Brien.1) But besides having the children read books about our Saviour, parents themselves and older children should read the New Testament. There we get the most vivid pictures of our Lord; and we begin to see what sort of Person it is that we must copy as our Model.
NECESSITY OF READING
Once we begin to read about Christ, and to get our children to read about Him, we may begin to discover that some of the children have difficulty in reading. Often a child is bored with reading, not because of the book, but because he does not know how to read easily. This is a serious matter, because poor readers are handicapped for life.
After we set ourselves to read about the life of our Lord, we soon realize how important is the whole matter of reading for the family. Reading spiritual books is a wonderful help to goodness; and poor readers are deprived of this help. It is folly to delay in relieving any boy or girl of this handicap. We had better stop at once, and see what can be done to remedy the situation.
PEDAGOGY—DIFFICULTIES IN READING
It has been discovered in the past few years that many children fail in school and get into serious difficulties with the teachers for no other reason than that they cannot read. All their work becomes difficult. They are ashamed of their own low marks and they begin to be bold and noisy, and before long they are known as bad children. Parents must then see to it that if their children are not easy readers, they should have plenty of practice until they are up to the level of their classmates. Ask the teacher in school about the child''s reading ability, and if he is slow, have him read aloud to you every evening. Rapid reading is largely a matter of drill and practice. Do not let a child read one word at a time, but show him that words are used in groups. For instance, we do not read: "A—boy—lives—in—this—house," but "A boy lives—in this house."
If the eye grasps words in groups, the speed of reading is increased. Another help is to have the child read a paragraph, and then stop and tell you what he has read. Ask him, "What was the chief idea in that paragraph?"
From the moment that a child learns to read, he should get the habit of reading at least every week out of some book which is not a school book. If the habit of reading is not formed in childhood, it probably never will be formed, and the child will probably suffer in many ways.
CHOICE OF READING FOR CHILDREN
Suppose that our children read normally well for their ages, what shall they read? First of all, a life of Christ, as was mentioned in March, and as we suggested again at the beginning of this section. Then, of course, we hope parents will try to secure the books mentioned each month.
For general reading books, if parents have any money to spare, there has been founded an organization dealing only with children''s books. It is called the "Pro Parvulis Book Club," which means "Book Club for the Little Ones." A lady, who gives her life to this work, selects books for children, under the guidance of a priest. The Club has lists of books suitable for all ages of children. The office of the Club is a little room in the Empire State Building,—the highest building in the world,Pro Parvulis Book Club situated at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, New York City. [JGM NOTE: This Club is now defunct.]
VIRTUE FOR PARENTS
Let us think every day about our Lady and her life and draw a comparison between her way and ours, with a view to making ourselves more like the wise and gentle Mother.
AN ALTAR ON THE HOME
Parents who have little ones not yet attending school will have read in the Pre-school Pamphlet about the plan of having an altar in the home. Lovely altars can be made from boxes; and, if you let the children do the work themselves, they will take a greater interest. As it is not easy to get a beautiful statue for a small sum of money, many parents have a picture in the place of honor on the altar. The children will be able to change the picture each month according to the liturgical season. For May, of course, our Lady should be in the place of honor; and the children should try to find flowers to place before her as a token of love. At family prayers before the altar, say one Rosary decade.
CROWNING OF MARY
If you have a statue of our Blessed Lady, the children will want to crown her. It is a good idea to remind them that they are thus celebrating the crowning of our Lady in Heaven,—the fifth decade of the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. That decade should be recited.
HYMNS FOR THE MONTH
During the crowning of Mary sing a hymn. A good one to sing or read is The Magnificat (New Testament, St. Luke, Chapter 1, verses 46-55). The music can be found in either the Catholic Youth''s Hymn Book2 or St. Gregory Hymnal.3
BOOKS FOR THE MONTH
Benedictus Qui Venit 4 is a small book of Mass prayers. The lines are broken, have a certain rhythm, and are well divided for reading aloud. It would be a sensible plan to have a child read these prayers aloud, one a day, to make sure that he understands them. Then he may use the book at Mass.
The Children''s Bread—Holy Mass and Communion 5 is a similar book for younger children and it contains many instructive pictures.
1 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]
2 Catholic Youth''s Hymn Book, by the Christian Brothers. Page 169. 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]
3 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]
4 Benedictus Qui Venit, The Missal Prayers, by Rev. W. Roche, S.J. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print, but a good substitute is the title My Picture Missal from the "St. Joseph Picture Books" by Father Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D. published by the Catholic Book Publishing Company. --JGM]
5 The Children''s Bread, by Rev. W. Roche, S.J. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonica Byles, Paulist Press, 1938