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Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Preschool: April



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

DEVOUT ATTITUDE: Must teach the child how to pray devoutly by our good example.

PRACTICE OF THE MONTH: Morning and Evening Prayers

LESSON: The Resurrection

VISITS: Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday

THINGS TO DO: Pictures of the Resurrection and Passion for the scrapbook


PEDAGOGY FOR PARENTS: How to introduce new ideas to children.

BOOKS FOR THE MONTH: One Small House of Nazareth,, A Little More Joy

HYMN FOR THE MONTH: Regina Coeli Laetare


We learn to pray by praying.

If the parent has been faithful in the regular recitation of the morning offering, good-night prayer, grace, and the first half of the Hail Mary, the child by now has made a very good start on the knowledge of the words of prayers.

However, parents must remember from the very earliest years that a child should never "gabble" prayers. The only way in which to avoid this habit and to instill the right religious spirit into a child, is for the mother always to say the prayer with the most reverent attitude possible. She may not always kneel; but she can fold her hands perhaps, and she can show in her face the unmistakable look of one who is in communion with God.

Prayer is, as we must remember, a lifting up of mind and will to God. "Aware of God, looking at Him with the eyes of my soul, I reach towards Him to converse with Him, to give Him what I have, to identify my will with His." Any parent who, in this spirit, says the words of the baby prayers with her child, will after more or less time, convey to the infant mind that mother and he are doing something that is altogether different from their other occupations.

Morning and Night Prayers

Continue teaching the first half of the Hail Mary, according to the plan and method explained in the March and January sections. We shall leave the second part of the prayer for May. By the time the baby is two, it is best to have him kneel down with mother for regular morning and night prayers, besides saying the morning offering in his crib and the prayer before sleep.

Morning and evening prayers are easy to make up. For the morning, we suggest little sayings like the following:

"Dear Jesus, I love You and adore You."
"Thank You for loving me."
"I want to be good today."
"Bless mother, father, friends."

In the evening:

"Thank You, Jesus, for a happy day."
"Have I been a good boy or girl?"
"Dear Jesus, bless me and mother and father, etc."

After the Hail Mary has been learned, it can be added to the personal prayers morning and evening. Later, the Our Father also.

One mother reports that when her baby boy was three, she began to make, with him, a personal prayer book of homemade prayers of love and thanksgiving. She wrote them down in a notebook, and the child illustrated them with pictures on the page opposite the prayer. For instance, when the rain stopped and the sun shone brightly, mother and baby went to the window and said, "Thank You, dear Jesus, for the sun. Dear Jesus, I love You." Then the baby made what he called a "sun." The mother said that she had always written the words in very large plain letters and that by the time the baby was four he had said the words in that book so often that he could read them.

The great lesson to teach this month is that of the Resurrection. The child will naturally be excited about Easter anyway; and parents can take advantage of all the festivities (flowers, "bunnies," Easter eggs) to impress upon him that this is a time of great joy. Our Lord died; but, because He was God, He could do what nobody else could do,—He arose from the dead. For the Resurrection story, read St. Matthew, Chapter 27, verses 57-66, and Chapter 28, verses 1-20 ; and also St. John, Chapter 20, verses 1-20.

In telling the story of the Resurrection, the parent should emphasize more and more, as the child grows older, the very great significance of the Resurrection. This event is one of the great proofs of Christianity, it being of course the greatest miracle of all. Be sure to tell the children that the soldiers were there as sentries, because in later years as girls and boys they will learn that this is a fact of historical importance.

If the church is not too far, mothers will want to go to church every day in Holy Week; and if they choose a good hour there is no reason why the little ones should not go along. On Ash Wednesday, even very small children are greatly thrilled by the receiving of the ashes and they can be told that it is to remind them that they will die some day. On Holy Thursday, possibly even the toddlers can be in the procession of little ones scattering rose petals before the Blessed Sacrament, when It is being carried from the altar to the repository. At any rate, the repository, with all its beauty, is a wonderful sight to children; and the mother can teach an unforgettable lesson about our Lord, Whom we wish especially to honor on this night before He dies.

Pictures of the Resurrection will of course be added to the scrapbook; and, for those who want them, there is the whole series of the Passion. If a nice picture of the Resurrection has been hung above the altar, the children will love to place flowers around it, as they have seen the flowers in church at the repository.

Joy. Every Christian should cultivate the habit of being joyous. Joy is good for both body and soul. Get into the spirit of "Alleluia."

In all our teaching of small children, we must remember that it is our business to present new ideas to them. If we want them to have good ideas, we have to introduce them. How did the baby learn to know the "pussy"? He heard his mother say "pussy" to the little animal. By the age of one year, he knows many objects and people. Does he know God, Blessed Lady, some saints, church? That depends upon whether we have presented them to him. One idea at a time enters his mind, as we present it. The responsibility is ours.

We parents should sit down with a pencil and paper some evening when all is quiet and write down a few questions and answers:

Q. What do I need for my job?
A. Thought, time, sense of responsibility, patience.

Q. What do I want my child to know about first?
A. God, Blessed Mother, Infant Jesus, Church, a few Saints, obedience, etc.

Write down also one or two things that you are going to teach your children within one week, and one or two things that you are going to do with them.

Having taken thought, resolve to take a little time each day to make sure that you are living up to your plan. Have a sense of responsibility about this sacred duty; and use patience with the children when you put your plan to work.

We are very busy in the physical care of our children, in housework, cooking, farmwork, in all the hundred things that other people forget about. That is all true. But then parents have to be saints. They cannot escape their vocation. No matter how worn out and overworked, they still must think about the training of the souls of their precious children.

One Small House of Nazareth,1 the life of Christ as a child, is very appealing like all the works of "Lamplighter" (the pen-name of a Holy Child nun who has spent many years in Rome teaching the little children of English parents who live there).

A Little More Joy2 is an excellent pamphlet for parents, appropriate this month.

Regina Coeli Laetare3 is a magnificent Easter hymn, with its ringing Alleluias expressing our Lady's joy over her Son's Resurrection.

Special activities for children preparing for First Communion will not be included in these pages this year. However, we do ask every parent of these little ones to try to secure the set of six First Communion Booklets prepared by Mother Bolton. They cost ten cents apiece and can be ordered from St. Anthony Guild Press, Paterson, N. J. They give a marvelous preparation for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament, and show children what to think about and how to act and live in the blessed months of getting ready for Jesus.

1 One Small House of Nazareth, by Lamplighter. London: Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd.

2 A Little More Joy. New York: The Paulist Press. [Editor's Note: There are a variety of early age religious books available in print. One publisher, Pauline Books and Media (the Daughters of St. Paul), has quite a variety. See also the St. Joseph Picture Books, by Father Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D., published by Catholic Book Publishing Company. --JGM]

3 St. Gregory Hymnal, Singers' Edition. Hymn No. 204. Philadelphia: The St. Gregory Guild. [Editor's Note: This is now available in two editions. GIA Publications,, 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 Pre-School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938