Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Elementary School: October
This section for the month of October covers the following areas:
Angels: Companionship, Prayer to Angels Angel Feasts The Rosary Things To Do: Family Altar The Little Flower Pedagogy: Truthfulness Punishment And Mercy Virtue For Parents: Faithful recitation of the Rosary. Hymn For The Month: Dear Angel Ever at My Side
ANGELS—COMPANIONSHIP October is the month of the Angels and also the month of the Rosary. Children can make real companions of their Angels and acquire the habit of turning to them at odd moments for help in trouble or for courage at a time of fear. An imaginative child especially, for whom darkness and the woods and the wind suggest terror, should be trained to recall often that a loving Guardian Angel is by his side. Explain that God loves us so much that He never leaves us alone, but sends the Angels, His messengers, to help us.
Prayer to Angels For children who did not learn in babyhood the well-known morning prayer to the Angels, we print it here:
Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom His love commits me here, Ever this day be at my side, To light and guard To rule and guide. Amen.ANGEL FEASTS The Feast of All Angels falls on October 2nd, and therefore each child may call that day the feast of his own Guardian Angel. [JGM NOTE: The revised Roman Calendar marks October 2nd as the feast of the Guardian Angels. September 29th is the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabriel.]
The family should learn something about the greatest Angels, also.
St. Michael, Leader St. Michael the Archangel is named in the Confiteor, just after "Blessed Mary, ever virgin," and that should remind us that he is very powerful. It was St. Michael who led the battle against the devils, the evil spirits when they, out of pride, rebelled against God. Teach the children then, to pray to St. Michael for help when tempted to be proud. St. Michael’s feast is September 29th.
St. Gabriel and Our Lady St. Gabriel (former feast March 24th) is the Angel of the Annunciation, the angel whose words we say in the "Hail Mary." Those children readily love him, who have learned about the coming of Christ.
St. Raphael and Tobias St. Raphael (former feast, October 24) should be a close friend of all busy people. He explained to Tobias that he would tell him a great secret, which was that he, the Archangel Raphael, took Tobias’ place in prayer, when he was busy doing deeds of kindness. "I offered thy prayer to the Lord," said St. Raphael.
Special devotion to these wonderful spirits appeals to girls and boys. Angels are so beautiful, so bright, so swift, that they please the young fancy. Be sure then to introduce your children to them.
THE ROSARY October is as we all know the month of the Rosary also. Blessed Mary is the Queen of Angels and so in this month dedicated to her as Lady of the Rosary we can combine our devotion to her and to the Angels by saying the Rosary before an altar decorated with pictures or statues of Angels. The family should make a heroic effort to say the beads together every night. If that is not possible, try to say them two or three nights a week. The mother of a family of ten reports that at family prayers each child says one decade, so that each gets a chance every other day. The youngest, three years old, delights in taking his turn.
We must be sure in saying the Rosary that we remind the family to think about the special mystery of each decade. It is comforting to realize that the Church has arranged such an easy method of meditating on the Life of our Blessed Lord and His Mother.
THINGS TO DO—ALTAR The family altar should be very attractive with pictures of Angels. Fra Angelico, a Dominican monk, who was born almost 600 years ago, made the most exquisitely lovely picture of Angels. Another great Italian artist, Melozza da Forli, who lived in the days of Christopher Columbus, made magnificent pictures of Angels, many of which are kept in the Vatican, the home of the Pope.
THE LITTLE FLOWER Little St. Teresa’s feast falls on October 3rd. She is a model for modern children, who can learn from her how to sanctify, the little daily doings of life. Try to make a triduum (3 days) of prayer to her, either before or after her feast. Teresa is so modern that children can play at being "Little Flower" all day. If we read her life and make her name a household word, younger children will dramatize her doing without any difficulty. The story of the Martin family sisters is quite as fascinating as Little Women, and many a child will pattern her life after Pauline or Céline or Teresa just as at one time every child wanted to play at being Meg, Jo, Beth or Amy.
PEDAGOGY—TRUTHFULNESS Girls and boys whose minds are full of thoughts of our Lady and her Angels and the Little Flower should be interested in the bright and shining virtue of truthfulness, about which we shall do a little thinking this month. Here are some fundamental ideas for parents to implant:
Spirit of Nobility Our aim should be to inculcate a spirit of nobility and idealism with regard to truth. We parents understand that God Himself is Truth and that, therefore, truth is sacred. It is not something which we can accept or deny, as we choose. In general conversation in the home subjects arise which involve historical truth, scientific truth, religious truth, or truth about some small detail connected with the household. If we always show that we respect truth, our children will grow up with a sense of loyalty to truth. The greatest thing we can do for them on this point is to develop in them such a habit of truthfulness that they will feel uncomfortable if they are not telling the truth or acting the truth.
Practice of Truth in Everyday Life If the spirit of love for truth is part of the life of our homes, it is not difficult to apply the principle of truth. telling to small matters. If a child begins to tell lies, or to be shifty and deceptive, we must show him that he is spoiling a precious ideal. If the children are to grow up with this right sense of truth, of course, they must be trained from early childhood. In small matters, as they arise, say always, "We tell the truth. We are brave and tell the truth even when it is hard." Show that, if the parent or teacher asks who is responsible for some fault which has been committed, there is something fine and noble in standing up and admitting, "I did it."
PUNISHMENT AND MERCY Usually lies are the result of fear. The child fears that he will be punished if he admits his fault. This question of punishment is a matter to which parents must give thought. If we have treated our children harshly and cruelly, we may expect them to lie through fear of punishment. If, on the other hand, we have so conducted ourselves that they love and respect us, they will not be likely to lie to us.
In normal cases, justice tempered with mercy works far better than the application of justice alone. Wise parents and teachers often can see their way to excusing a child if he apologizes. Some children are trained to say, "I did it. Please excuse me. I’m sorry." A parent does not lose his power by forgiving a child. Indeed mercy is a great quality and strengthens the authority of the parent who shows it. As Shakespeare said:
"The quality of mercy is not strain’d, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes: . . . . . . . . It is an attribute to God Himself; And earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice."A child will not be easily tempted to tell a lie if he lives in a merciful atmosphere.
Courage Suppose, however, that there is likelihood of punishment if an offender is discovered. Then courage is needed. Tell the child, "Be brave. Bear the pain of the punishment for our Lord’s sake. Never be a coward. You are in training to be a soldier of Christ, full of courage."
VIRTUE FOR PARENTS Faithful recitation of the Rosary, with meditation on each mystery.
BOOKS FOR THE MONTH Saint Teresa Picture Book1 is a charming book in verse, with lively illustrations on each page. It tells of the Little Flower’s life as a child. For older children, there is another beautifully written story about St. Teresa. It is Little Saint Thérèse.2
For parents themselves who want to read little Teresa’s own account of her life there is the large translation made by Father T. N. Taylor called Soeur Thérèse of Lisieux.3 Parents who are interested in the ideal set forth in these leaflets on "Religion in the Home" will see in the Martin household an example of a home filled with supernatural atmosphere. God is there always in the minds and hearts of father, mother, and children.
HYMN FOR THE MONTH Dear Angel Ever at My Side4 is an appropriate hymn for this month.
1 Saint Teresa Picture Book, by Ade Bethune. New York: Sheed & Ward. [Editor's Note: This book is no longer in print.]
2 Little Saint Thérèse, by E. von Schmidt Pauli. New York: Macmillan Co. [Editor's Note: There are numerous other biographies in print. A very good one is Story of a Life by Msgr. Guy Gaucher, published by Harper, but a used copy can be found very easily.]
3 Soeur Thérèse of Lisieux, an autobiography, translated by Father T. N. Taylor. New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons. [Editor's Note: There have been numerous translations and publications of this autobiography. Currently, the most accurate and complete translation is Story of a Soul, translated by John Clarke, printed by ICS Publications (Institute of Carmelite Studies), www.icspublications.org/ for $12.95.]
4 The Catholic Youth’s Hymn Book, by the Christian Brothers. No. 111. 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 Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938