Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Elementary School: January



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

PEDAGOGY—The First Step, Regularity
HABIT FOR THE MONTH: Regularity in prayer
THINGS TO DO: Act out religion
HYMN OF THE MONTH We Three Kings of Orient Are



A year is a long stretch of time for a child. We parents however, find that another twelve months have sped away before we have even made a good start on our plans. We are always busy, of course; for we have the liveliest beings in the world to keep us occupied. But no matter how busy, no matter how exhausted we are, the job of a parent must be performed here and now. There is no possible chance of postponing it. Delay a little and the child has become a man before we have even settled down to teaching him how to be a really good boy. We are fighting against time. We must remind ourselves every day that this present hour is the hour for making our children into real Christian men and women.


Our duty in the matter is made clear in a letter on the Christian education of youth written by Pope Pius XI in 1929. He says that God the Creator has given to parents the "right" and "the strict obligation" to educate their children. He insists also that parents may not give up this right. It is "inalienable." Then he continues: "This education must form a true and perfect Christian," who must "live a supernatural life, and display it in his actions."

Let us not forget then, that: It is the parents' right and duty to teach the children to act as Christians living a supernatural life.


We parents must begin this education of our children in early babyhood by surrounding them with the supernatural atmosphere of a Christian home. Moreover, during all their school years, we must never yield to the lazy notion that we can sit back and let the school take all the responsibility for educating our children. A little calculation will show how much less time a child spends in school than he does at home. In the thirteen years of his school life from kindergarten through high school, he spends approximately

13,000 hours in school (five hours a day)
37,960 hours asleep (eight hours a day)
62,920 hours awake at home or elsewhere.

The question then is: how shall we make a Christian home in which our children may pass all these waking hours?

The first step is the creation of a supernatural atmosphere in the home. A house closed for a long time is filled with dank, musty air, but when the windows are opened, the rays of the sun irradiate the dead atmosphere. Similarly, a house filled with supernatural atmosphere is one which is irradiated by the presence of God. It is that sort of home we want for our children,—a home in which they are surrounded by the spirit of our Catholic religion. How can we make such a home for our families?

  1. 1. We parents must keep remembering that the most important thing in life is for us and our children to be God's children. "Being God's children" means several things:

    (a) It means keeping our souls full of God's grace.

    (b) It means that God lives in us and loves us, and that we should love Him and talk to Him.

    (c) It means that if we do love Him and remember Him, He will make us morally good and spiritually strong.

  2. 2. We must often talk about religious truths, so that the children may become familiar with them.
  3. 3. We must act so that our children may see that we ardently believe all the truths of our faith.
  4. 4. We must make use of the many different means for reminding ourselves and our children of these truths. (Various Catholic practices, the use of pictures, statues, etc., will be discussed in later pages.)


Some parents seem always to be aware of the unseen. They act and speak as if they felt God present in the room and in their hearts. They act and speak as if they remembered that Jesus Christ, God Himself, became man, lived and died to make us God's children. They act and speak as if they believed that Jesus Christ founded a Church to teach them, His own Church of which they are members and whose voice they gladly obey.


The present pamphlet has one aim: to suggest to parents many things, some great, some small, which they can do to keep their homes full of the sunshine of God's presence.


The first step we must take is to establish habits of regularity. We trained our babies in habits of regular feeding, sleeping, playing. Thus we made a good beginning, for the children not only formed good physical habits but also learned the meaning of discipline and restraint. Let us not lose that good beginning. Meals, sleep, play, study, prayer,—all these things should be arranged for and carefully adhered to as they were during the children's babyhood. Some mothers have the children work out a time schedule for their own day and pin it up on the door. Then in the evening they check off to see who has had a perfect day.


To start the year off well, we should stress the value of regularity in the formation of good habits of prayer. If we recall that God is with us here in this spot, now at this minute, we realize that of course one of the most valuable practices in life is the habit of turning the attention to Him often, but especially at fixed times.


Regularity is our watchword. Can your child throw a straight ball without regular practice in ball throwing? No! Neither can he learn to place himself before God and pray unless he does so regularly. See to it then that your children are absolutely faithful about the following:

  1. Morning offering upon awakening, using any form of expressing the idea: "My God, I offer myself and all I do this day to You." A home-made formula of offering may be the best.
  2. Morning prayer on the knees. The Our Father is to be included, since our Lord Himself composed it, the Hail Mary and the Acts of Faith, Hope and Charity.
  3. Night prayer on the knees, including the Our Father, Hail Mary, Creed and Act of Contrition. Be sure that the child has the habit of talking to God in a personal way, especially at this time when usually there is no hurry. The custom of praying for relatives and friends is a good one. The intention should be extended to include everyone in need on that particular day, for instance, people without work, soldiers fighting in wars, etc.


A chief concern of the parents in all prayer must be their own attitude. A devout, reverent manner in the parent conveys better than anything else the real meaning of prayer. If things have gone wrong in the house, you must make it plain that you turn to prayer time with relief. Say, "Well, now let us talk to God." Calm yourself, and drop all signs of irritation. Take refuge in God and your children will follow you to Him.


One of the very best ways to learn religion is to act it. Little plays made up at home are useful in teaching some facts of religion. (Incidentally they give training in speech and help to cure self-consciousness.) As a matter of fact no Catholic home is complete without its religious theatricals. For January have the children act the story of the Three Wise Men. Trust them to make up plenty of conversation. The Infant Jesus may be represented by a doll. If the children are old enough they will take great pride in writing out the parts for the different characters. If the family is too small, join with one or two other families.


Trust. Do you believe that God is your Father? Then do not worry, for He is taking care of you.


The Journey of the Three Kings1 is a most beautiful play which you should own if you can. Henri Gheon, the author, lives in France and does great work with the young people there. The college boys and girls love him and treat him as a kind of hero. He has a dramatic club where they learn religious plays.

For children from 6 to 10 we recommend The Children's Saint2, the story of St. Madeleine Sophie, the child who was so small that she stood upon the bench to answer in class. There are several illustrations on each page,—sketches to delight the heart of any young reader.

Older children will like Retreat with St. Ignatius3, a book which contains pictures, charts and a text for a way of life.


Try to get the song We Three Kings of Orient Are,4 that well-loved old carol.

1 The Journey of the Three Kings, by Henri Gheon. New York: Sheed & Ward.

2 The Children's Saint, by Maud Monahan. New York: Longmans, Green & Co. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]

3 Retreat with St. Ignatius, by Geoffrey Bliss, S.J. New York: Sheed & Ward. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]

4 Old Christmas Carols, edited by S. Archer Gibson, 1st Set (No. 4374). New York: G. Schirmer, Inc., 3 East 43rd Street. Or Singalong Carols for Christmastide. New York: Paull-Pioneer Music Corp., 1657 Broadway. [Editor's Note: It is not necessary to get the exact book for Christmas carols, as there are myriads of editions that contain these carols. Choose one that suits your needs. --JGM]

Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938