Catholic Activity: Religion in the Home for Elementary School: April
This section for the month of April covers the following areas:
TALKS ABOUT RELIGION: Confidence
PEDAGOGY: How to teach Obedience
DISCIPLINE Calmness and Dignity
HYMN FOR THE MONTH: Regina Coeli Laetare.
FOR FIRST COMMUNION CHILDREN
Easter is the day of joy, the greatest day in the history of Christ, the day when, after having been crucified like a criminal, He conquered death itself. Usually Easter falls in April, although, as a look at the table of movable feasts in the prayer book will show, in 1941, it comes on April 13th. From then until 1948, it comes in April.
CELEBRATION OF FEAST DAYS
Thinking about Easter gives us some ideas about the way to celebrate any religious festival. We parents should make this feast a really great day for our children. There are several things to do.
- The family should, if possible, all go to Mass together and receive Holy Communion.
- Breakfast should be rather festive. Colored eggs please the children, or a few flowers, anything to strike the note of joy.
- At such a meal, father or mother can easily talk a little about how great a miracle the Resurrection was. Then one can say that the whole family must make an Easter resolution to be good in some particular way.
- The highest way to be good one might say would be to obey and to trust God absolutely, wholly and entirely in everything. The God Who could rise from the dead, triumphant after being crucified, can and will help us to rise up out of sorrow or sickness or sin or failure.
TALKS ABOUT RELIGION—CONFIDENCE
We parents must speak of the truths of our faith, briefly, and often, never in a preachy way. We thus establish confidence between ourselves and our children in religious matters. They may think we are old-fashioned in some ways; but they will realize that our faith and theirs is something beyond change, and that in religion there is no division between the older and the younger generation. In families where the deep intimate truths of religion are talked about, there is a strong bond of union between parents and children.
It is all-important that we retain the confidence of our children and maintain a position of authority in the home. As the children grow from babyhood, where the parent is supreme, into adolescence, we should take care that we do not forfeit the rights and the strength and the dignity of our position.
PEDAGOGY—HOW TO TEACH OBEDIENCE
Obedience is the chief outward form by which children acknowledge the right of their parents. It might be good for us to consider the topic of obedience. We must ask ourselves the question: How shall we teach obedience?
- By giving good example. Parents who disobey God and the Church will have a hard time exacting obedience. As was said last month, we parents ought to make a great effort to get up early on Sunday morning for Mass, to receive the Sacraments weekly if possible, and to follow out the instructions given by the priest. We must let it be evident to our children that we obey all the Commandments ourselves,
- By beginning to train the children when they are young. As was said in January, a child learns the idea of discipline in babyhood. He learns to conform to rules and laws about living, eating, sleeping, keeping clean, etc., and if we parents have not thrown away a golden beginning, we have started our children on the road of discipline and obedience.
- By not being over-sentimental. Mothers have a strong instinct to shield the child from all pain. When the time comes that the child wants to cross the mother''s wishes or rules, the foolish mother yields to keep the child happy. This means that gradually the child will become the ruler and the parent the slave. Keep at the job you began when the child was a baby. Retain the mastery you then had.
- By making as few unbreakable rules as possible. If we have a few carefully chosen rules, we can insist on obedience to them. There should be rules like the following:
Say your morning and evening prayer.
Come home at a certain hour.
Study lessons at given times.
Go to bed at a certain hour.
Perform certain tasks in the home.
Treat your parents, brothers and sisters with courtesy.
- By being consistent and insistent about a few rules. Firmness, without any show of anger or temper, is what wins. Children respect firm parents. If we have made the mistake of being too lenient in the past, we can now gradually change our tactics. In this case we must by degrees and very carefully establish our authority.
- By teaching the Commandment, "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother." If we make our home Catholic in spirit, all the training in obedience should be accompanied by the constant reminder that children obey because God told them to do so. Of course, some parents use this fact as an excuse for acting like tyrants and forcing submission. Such policy leads to hatred of God. Remember that God does not force. He wants our willing submission. That is what we must seek to win from our children,—obedience given willingly.
DISCIPLINE—CALMNESS AND DIGNITY
While speaking of obedience, we may say a word also about discipline in general. All training, all teaching, should be given in a calm, quiet manner. A young woman coach of a basketball team says that when she arrives at a school the first thing she does is to quiet the girls. When they are all calmed down, she gives them instructions in a quiet, clear tone. The results are like magic. We parents too often are rushed and tired and flurried, so that we give orders in an excited tone, not remembering to get the children quieted down before we speak. If a child is playing a game, we suddenly called out, "Come in; come quickly." Rebellion is the result. If we must call, it is better to say, "Five minutes more to play, children; please get ready." Then in five minutes, say, "Time up. Come quickly."
This rule applies to all situations. If we mothers are nervous from the endless demands upon us, we shall lessen the strain on our own health and dispositions by quieting ourselves into a calm state before acting. After a while the exterior calmness will spread to the interior and will benefit our nervous systems and even our souls.
In connection with studying lessons at home, we particularly ask all parents to take special interest in the religion or catechism homework. We suggest four points:
- Go over the lesson with the child.
- Hear him recite all parts which are to be memorized.
- After school ask what happened during religion or catechism lesson. Find out whether the child answered correctly.
- If there was discussion in class, talk about the topic with the child.
BOOKS FOR THE MONTH
Children of the Lantern 1 is suitable for children up to ten. It gives delightful accounts of the wonderful experiences of some girls and boys in Rome.
Jesus and I 2 is an attractive illustrated gift book for First Communicants.
HYMN FOR THE MONTH
Of all the Easter hymns, the one that every Catholic should know is Regina Coeli Laetare. The English words are as follows:
Queen of Heaven, rejoice; Alleluia;
For He Whom thou didst merit to bear; Alleluia;
Has risen as He said; Alleluia;
Rejoice and be glad, 0 Virgin Mary; Alleluia;
Because the Lord is truly risen; Alleluia.
The music with a Latin version can be found in The St. Gregory Hymnal.3
FOR FIRST COMMUNION CHILDREN
Special activities for children preparing for First Communion will not be included in these pages this year. We do ask every parent of these little ones to try to secure the famous set of six First Communion Booklets prepared by Mother Bolton. They can be ordered from St. Anthony Guild Press, Paterson, N. J. [JGM NOTE: This publisher is not longer in business and these booklets are out-of-print.] 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 Children of the Lantern, by Lamplighter, a Holy Child nun. London: Burns & Oates. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]
2 Jesus and I, by Aloysius J. Heeg, S.J. Chicago: Loyola University Press. [Editor's Note: This book is out of print.]
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]
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938