Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Preschool: August
This section for the month of August covers the following areas:
ACTS OF FAITH, HOPE, LOVE
VISITS TO CHURCH: Feast of the Assumption, August 15th.
THINGS TO DO: Extra ways to honor Our Lady.
LESSON OF THE MONTH: Story of the Assumption
DEDICATION TO OUR LADY: The custom of dedicating babies and young children to our Blessed Lady
PEDAGOGY—General Review of training the will.
VIRTUE FOR PARENTS: Observe and think of God in nature, and cultivate the habit prayers of thanksgiving.
BOOK FOR THE MONTH: Books about Saints, including Six O'Clock Saints.
HYMN FOR THE MONTH: The Magnificat
REMINDER FOR THE YEAR We learn to pray by praying.
Prayers to be said daily:—
Grace at meals.
Love and "Thank You" prayers.
ACTS OF FAITH, HOPE, LOVE
At any time after three years a simple form of the Acts can be learned. The ideas and the sentiments of the Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity can be introduced with the love and "Thank You" prayers which mother and baby have, we trust, been making up. Tiny children do not, of course, know the meaning of the words "believe" and "hope," but they may be taught to say, "Dear Jesus, I know You are God," as an Act of Faith. For the Act of Hope, children may say, "Dear Jesus, I know You will take care of me and some day lead me to Heaven." Acts of Love they have been composing right along in the love and "Thank You" prayers. By four years, it is wise, however, to put the Acts into formal words to be memorized. Very simple Acts may be used. The shorter the form the parent can devise, the better. We suggest:
"Dear Lord Jesus, I believe in Thee."
"Dear Lord Jesus, I hope in Thee."
"Dear Lord Jesus, I love Thee."
At five it is advisable to begin to teach the Acts as found in the Catechism; but, if the child finds these difficult, he may continue with short simple ones until he goes to school.
VISITS TO CHURCH
August 15th being a holyday of obligation, parents will go to Mass. Since it is summer time, it may be possible to let a child of three or four go along with you. But, if not to Mass, do try to take the little one for a visit in the afternoon. Kneel before Blessed Lady''s statue and say with your baby short prayers, like:
"Dear Blessed Mother, I love you.
Please take care of me.
You are so good and you loved little Jesus so much!
Please love me too."
THINGS TO DO
We all are happy on this day of the Assumption which celebrates the reward that was given to our Blessed Mother for her perfect life. As we think of her entrance into Heaven, we want to rejoice with her. How shall we let the little ones have an extra happy day in her honor?
- Say a little prayer to Blessed Lady as you call the child in the morning.
- Bring out the blue ribbons and bows.
- Let the little one decorate the altar. It should be easy to gather flowers in August. Perhaps you can have a daisy chain.
- At some time of the day,—at evening prayer if the baby is two or more,—kneel before the altar and say the Hail Mary very carefully. If the child is old enough to have learned the prayer, have him say it himself. Explain that this prayer makes Blessed Mother happy, because it reminds her of the wonderful visit of the Angel telling her she was to be the Mother of God.
- For the scrapbook you must try to get a picture of the Assumption.
LESSON OF THE MONTH
The story of the Assumption gives the parent a chance to go over and connect together all the little bits of knowledge that the child has learned about Christ and His Mother.
Recall how our Blessed Lady was chosen at the time of the Annunciation to be the Mother of God. Go over the pictures of her with the Infant Jesus, and all those the child is familiar with, which show Christ as Boy or Man. Then explain that our Lady suffered much when Jesus died on the Cross, and that she lived after Him for a long time. When she died, her Son took her to Heaven where she was united with Him amid great rejoicing. "Mary is taken up into Heaven, the Angels rejoice, and bless God with songs of praise," are words said at Vespers on this day.
Explain how our Blessed Lady is now Queen of Heaven and always close to her Divine Son, so that she can easily tell Him about little children on earth who pray to her and need her care and protection. If the child is as much as four he can understand why his Blessed Mother cares for him. He knows how his own dear mother on earth loves him, and so he can see that Mary, being a mother, knows how to love little children.
Dedication to Our Lady
The custom of dedicating babies and young children to our Blessed Lady is a beautiful one, and children take great pride in being able to say that they are "dedicated." Some parents dress their children in blue and white up to seven years to remind them that they are given to the care of our Lady. Blue clothes are often not practicable; but some outward token should be used. A medal of our Lady is a good substitute.
In all dealings with children, parents should realize that one of the chief aims of education is the training of the will. It is not enough to give the child intellectual knowledge; you must train his will to act in the right way upon that knowledge. Training the will involves training the child to do—to act himself, of his own volition. In the case of small children, will-training begins best by training in good habits. If you have laid down family rules, rules of conduct, and have consistently and gently enforced them, you will have made for your child a foundation of good habits which will tend to make him use his will in a right way in other matters. A child trained, without force, in orderly and obedient habits will usually, when he has a chance to act of his own accord, behave in an orderly and obedient way.
Therefore, in the early years:
- Make "Consistency" your watchword;
- Make the child regular in personal habits, that is, accustom him to a regular regime in eating, sleeping, playing, dressing and all the mechanics of life;
- Say the prayers at the same time in the same reverent manner every day;
- Insist gently, not forcibly, on the regular performance of small actions;
- Apply this policy of regularity and consistency in the teaching of the virtues.
VIRTUE FOR PARENTS
All through the summer time, observe and think of the wonderful works of God in nature, and cultivate the habit of saying prayers of thanksgiving and praise to Him. We so often neglect to do more than ask favors from God, forgetting that the first Commandment is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, with thy whole soul, with thy whole strength, and with thy whole mind."
BOOK FOR THE MONTH
The sooner children are introduced to the company of the saints, the better. Saints are very charming and fascinating people; and the children will take to copying them if they hear stories about them told in language suited to young intelligence. Six O'Clock Saints1 is a delightful book of saints for the young. Mother may read several stories in one week, or read about the same saint every day for a week, telling the story herself after the first day. Children love repetition, as every mother knows who has heard the refrain, "Tell it again."
HYMN FOR THE MONTH
The hymn for the month should be the Magnificat, the hymn of the glory of the Mother of God. You will find it in The Catholic Youth's Hymn Book.2 For the English words read the New Testament, St. Luke, Chapter 1, verses 46-55.
1 Six O'Clock Saints, by Joan Windham. New York: Sheed & Ward. [Editor's Note: Pauline Books and Media (the Daughters of St. Paul), http://www.pauline.org has a six volume series of Saints for Kids. See also the Picture Book of Saints and Children's Book of Saints, by Father Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D., published by Catholic Book Publishing Company.]
2 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. We 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