Lent Lessons for Your Children….

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In The Year and Our Children, Mary Reed Newland talks about teaching our children valuable lessons during the grace-filled time of Lent.

One practice she did with her own children is the Lima Beans for sacrifices. The beginning of Lent each child had their own pile of different colored lima beans (they had colored themselves) so they could differentiate from each other’s lima beans. Every time a sacrifice was made they could put one of their own lima beans in the jar. When Easter came the number of lima beans was rewarded accordingly.

A sweet practice that would be fondly remembered by the kids as they grew into adulthood….

Some of her own thoughts as they journeyed through Lent:

The meditations for the Stations of the Cross are most fruitful if they relate to daily life some trial we are struggling with now.

For example, our Lord’s silence when He was condemned to death, when He was tormented by the soldiers, or when He fell under the weight of the Cross – this can be related to that commonplace of childhood: bickering.

Bickering is a form of verbal cannibalism.Usual situation - two brothers in conflict. Focus on front boy

The one who holds out longer with his pecking at another is victor, having reduced the victim to tears, goaded him to losing his temper, striking, or some other form of retaliation, which is all reported as an unprovoked injustice as follows:

“But I didn’t do anything. Nothing. I just said . .

“I just said” is himself far more culpable, usually, than the poor soul he has goaded beyond endurance.

There is no real remedy for this but silence on the part of victims.

Abstinence from it on the part of attackers is the perfect solution, of course, but if someone does start, silence will stop him.

This, however, is awfully hard on the one who is silent, because this is how bickering goes (as if you didn’t know):

“You pig. You took the biggest.”

“I did not, and I’m not a pig.”

“You are too.”

“I am not.”

“You are too. Pig!”

“I am not a pig. I’m not. I’m not a pig I’m not a pig I’m not a pig!”

“You are too. You are a pig you are a pig you are a pig.”

“I’m not I’m not I’m not.”

“You are you are you are.”

This could go on for an hour if Mother didn’t begin to froth at the mouth. Whereas the silent treatment winds up the conversation (if you can call it that) as follows:

“You pig. You took the biggest.”

“I did not. And I’m not a pig.”

“You are too.”

Silence. In other words, you are a Pig.

O cruel silence …

But children well understand that no one is really a pig; this is only a game to see who can make the other lose his temper first.

It is ugly and mean; and the winner is usually the older child because he knows the extent of the younger’s endurance.

Out of his own store of unavenged wrongs, he chooses this way to refresh a bruised ego. If we have taught them what our Lord said must be the very basis for our behavior, we have the point of departure.

“Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do it to me.”

Learning this, we know what we must know in order to put meditations on the Passion together with events out of daily life and discover how to use them.

Then we can see – and children can see it – that to provoke a brother or a sister is to provoke Christ; to be silent under provocation is to be silent with Christ.

It is not good to make such accusations while saying the Stations, but rather to connect the meditations with these real problems (names of particular children omitted), and return to the principles when we are on the scene of abuses that we must correct.

“You are teasing Christ when you tease your brother. It is the same. Whatsoever you do…” He said.

You torment him just for the fun of it the way the soldiers tormented our Lord.

Yet you really love him, as you really love our Lord.

Keep these things in the front of your mind during Lent, and try to bite your tongue when you are tempted to unkindness.

Each time you keep from saying something unkind, it is a triumph of grace, and our Lord will strengthen you with grace for the next time.

There are powerful graces coming to us during Lent, and we must try to use them to rid ourselves of our faults so that on Easter we can be free of them, like the newly baptized are free of Original Sin.

Impossible? Not really, although it will probably take a lifetime to do it. But it is the goal, and especially during Lent it is the spirit of the preparation: to be as those newborn, on Easter morning.

If we are spectators to such a moral victory, we must be sure to congratulate the hero. “Darling, I heard N. today when he called you a pig and tried to make you angry. It was wonderful, the way you didn’t answer back and only walked away.

You used silence the way our Lord used it, the way He wants you to use it. When you are silent in union with Him, you are growing in the likeness of Christ.”

When Dominic Savio was silent before an unjust accusation, he shamed the other boys into admitting their guilt.

This is often the effect of heroic efforts to reach out to Christ and bear hurts with Him. Grace is the invisible ingredient in all these struggles for perfection.

For every honest effort, one may put a bean in the jar. There are beans for all kinds of things: no desserts, no jumping for the telephone (a genius in our midst suggested this to eliminate violent jostling, wrestling, racing, leaping, and tugging – an excruciating discipline); no complaining about anything; doing chores promptly; no weekly penny for candy, and many more, including that magnificent and most glorious of all: coming when called.

All who do this are known as St. Theresas.

Actually, when you scan the long list of them, they amount to what spiritual directors call the “interior mortifications.”

Our mantel is bare this season except for the two candelabra with their twelve candles and the crucifix between them. Even the bread and the baking speak to us of Lent. Crosses of seeds decorate the bread (because when you see the seeds, you remember about “die so you may live”), and on biscuit crusts and meat pies, symbols of the Passion are cut.

 

“This art of housekeeping is not learned in a day; those of us who have been engaged in it for years are constantly finding out how little we know, and how far we are, after all, from perfection. It requires a clever woman to keep house; and as I said before there is ample scope, even within the four walls of a house (a sphere which some affect to despise), for the exercise of originality, organizing power, administrative ability. And to the majority of women I would fain believe it is the most interesting and satisfactory of all feminine occupations.” –Annie S. Swan  Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making (afflink)

Meet Agnes, a fourteen-year-old Catholic girl, who is challenged to make a sacrifice. Will she cheerfully accept what she knows is God’s will in this situation? Your kids will enjoy this book and it will be one of those “helps” along the way that sweetly instills Catholic culture in your children!

We often don’t realize the impact of those lessons, those Catholic lessons, that are taught each day to our children. It is so much worth the effort! The signs of the cross, kneeling to say prayers, dipping fingers in holy water, laying fresh flowers at the statue of Our Lady, etc., etc. These are gold nuggets that will live on in your children’s lives. This is building Catholic Culture!
These stories are to help you parents with those little things…..They are story books from my new little series, “Catholic Hearth Stories”. I wrote them especially for my grandchildren….and am sharing them with yours.

Catholic Hearth Stories are tales filled with traditional, old-fashioned values. They are about everyday situations in the life of a Catholic family…Tales about home, friends, fun, sacrifice, prayer, etc. These are full-color books sure to capture the heart of your children.

Each book is about 35 pages of full-color pictures that tell a lovely Catholic story. The ages they are appropriate for are approximately 4 – 12 years.

Available here.

All 4 Catholic Hearth Stories available here.

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Celebrate the Faith with your kids all year round!

For over half a century, Catholic families have treasured the practical piety and homespun wisdom of Mary Reed Newland’s classic of domestic spirituality, The Year and Our Children. With this new edition, no longer will you have to search for worn, dusty copies to enjoy Newland’s faithful insights, gentle lessons, and delightful stories. They’re all here, and ready to be shared with your family or homeschooling group. Here, too, you ll find all the prayers, crafts, family activities, litanies, and recipes that will help make your children ever-mindful of the beautiful rhythm of the Church calendar….

In this joyful and charming book, Maria Von Trapp (from The Sound of Music) unveils for you the year-round Christian traditions she loved traditions that created for her large family a warm and inviting Catholic home and will do the same for yours.

Most people only know the young Maria from The Sound of Music; few realize that in subsequent years, as a pious wife and a seasoned Catholic mother, Maria gave herself unreservedly to keeping her family Cathoplic by observing in her home the many feasts of the Church’s liturgical year, with poems and prayers, food and fun, and so much more!

With the help of Maria Von Trapp, you, too, can provide Christian structure and vibrancy to your home. Soon your home will be a warm and loving place, an earthly reflection of our eternal home….

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.

A Meditation on St. Joseph – Happy Feast Day!

HP_St_Joseph_10
The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season
Among the responsibilities that came crowding into St. Joseph’s life after he discovered that all innocently he had taken as his betrothed the one who would be Mother of God, that which must have frightened him most, I should think, was that of being “father” to a Child who is God.

It was not that his love was wanting. Joseph had dedicated his life to God. He longed with an ardor like Mary’s for the coming of the Messiah.

A devout Jew felt so keenly the greatness and majesty and unspeakable mystery of God that even Christ, when He called His Apostles, let recognition of His divinity come to them slowly. Continue reading

Say Your Grace! – Meal Prayer

-Father Arthur Tonne, The Big Book of Sacramentals

“Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, distributed them to those reclining” – St. John, 6:11.

A Catholic Army chaplain of World War Two was relating some of his experiences. Speaking of starvation in war-torn Europe, he described what he saw in an American Army camp in France. Every day a group of boys and girls of all sizes and ages, but with one common longing for food, would search among the empty food cans thrown out from the Army kitchen.

With painstaking perseverance the children would scrape every speck of food from the cans. After they had gathered whatever they could find, each child placed his precious findings on the ground, knelt down, made the sign of the cross, and said a prayer before his miserable meal. Many of the soldiers were touched to tears. Continue reading

Ah, St. Patrick, Steadfast and Unchanging Man, Pray for Us!

The whole story of St. Patrick is exciting. I highly recommend reading more about him. When I think of St. Patrick being kidnapped, I shudder. And how many of us shudder when we here of the abductions of children in the streets of today? If you have any of those “motherly” fears, pray to St. Patrick.  He most assuredly will protect our children.

These following Gaelic prayers are beautiful and you may want to adopt one or two. Or just light your green candle and say them on St. Patrick’s Day which could be the beginning of a meaningful custom in your home.


The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season

The feast of St. Patrick as popularly celebrated is badly in need of surgery. In an attempt to rid the occasion of indignities and restore to this saint some of his due, we have had recourse to the Confession of St. Patrick, an inspiring read-aloud for this night.

It has been called by Oliver St. John Gogarty, in his I Follow St. Patrick, “the oldest and perhaps the most important document in British history.”

 

Here I will interject and include a link to get this document. Mrs. Newland condenses it in her book but it is too long to include here.

Confession of St. Patrick

Here are some beautiful Gaelic Prayers that can be said in honor  of The Feast of St. Patrick. Continue reading

The Tongue, That Unruly Member

This is a good reminder for all of us of the power of our words! It is also a good reminder that we need to be diligent in  teaching our children to keep their words wholesome and respectful!
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Beautiful Girlhood by Mabel Hale

The tongue is an unruly member, and until it is brought into control by the girl herself, it is ever liable to get her into trouble. If the old rule to “think twice before you speak once” can be remembered and obeyed, much trouble and heartache will be avoided.

When all the efforts at controlling a girl’s tongue are made by parents and teachers instead of by the girl herself, it is like trying to stop a faucet by putting your hand over it. The pressure from within is so strong that ugly words will fly out in spite of these efforts. But when the girl undertakes the task herself, she is able to turn the pressure off so that the words flow smoothly. Not that it will be without struggle; but victory is ahead for every girl who will try. Continue reading

My Morning and Night Prayers – Sharing With You….

Vincent Vidal. French (1811-1887)

I am going to share with you something close to my heart, rather personal, and that I do every day….

It is my Morning and Night prayers.

Someone wrote to me about a year ago and asked what I say for morning and night prayers and it made me think that not everyone has a guideline for this sort of thing.

Through the years and my own research…good prayer books, wise mentors, etc., I have come up with some basic prayers that I say for morning and night prayers that I think could be helpful to some. Continue reading

How is YOUR Superiority Complex?

A great reminder for your week! Pride goeth before a fall…

indexDo you ever have this feeling that you are better than your husband? Do you find you look down on him because he doesn’t quite measure up to your expectations of whatever……orderliness, manners, managing finances, education, etc. It’s easy to fall into this trap and to replay it over and over again in our minds. Continue reading

Lessons from Our Lord’s Agony

Painting by Giovanni Bellini

From Words of Encouragement, 1934

Notes of Instructions delivered by Rev. Daniel Considine, S.J.

To some of us will come at times some taste of that horrible perplexity Our Lord had in the Garden of Olives. At times it will seem almost impossible to do what we know God wants us to do.

There was a moment when Our Lord seemed to waver and balance as to whether He would go on with His Passion. It must cost us something, if we mean to do something memorable for God. That is the time of the greatest anguish of mind, when we are balancing the question. Thereafter came that complete calm which Our Lord never lost during His Passion, save in that moment of His dereliction on the Cross. Continue reading

Care and Common Sense in Choosing a Partner

Clean Love in Courtshipby Father Lovasik

The decision of supreme importance in your life is the choice of a helpmate for life. The consequences of that choice reach even into eternity. It follows that your choice should be made with the greatest care, prudence and wisdom.

Company-keeping and courtship have no other reason for existence except to assist you in becoming better acquainted and in making a wise choice. Acquaintance and friendship between the sexes should be fairly extensive. Dances, dramatics, and social affairs are designed to promote such acquaintance.

Meet many young people of good reputation and character. Mingle and talk with them in a friendly way. Learn their interests, disposition and character.

Out of many friendships you are likely to form one based upon disposition, character, training, outlook and convictions—one which will ripen into conjugal love. In courtship you must first of all be true to yourself. Because a choice is made while the emotions tend to disturb the even functioning of the mind, you stand at that time in particular need of guidance.

confession_custom-cd4250f874907662d42d33c0930196ed2b74c31a-s6-c30 Continue reading

Give Up Complaining for Lent?

Cheri wrote this article about having a complaint-free month. Well, let’s stretch that into all the 40 days of Lent! (Don’t take off Sundays….it needs to be a Day of Rest from complaining, too!)

Then, by the time Lent is over, we will be more aware of our complaining habit…not just with our husbands, but with everyone we come in contact with.

da612d48c5d849e0ce7290b16298b152with permission by Cheri Gregory on Happy Wives Daily Blog

Every January for the last seven years, I’ve taken the Complaint-Free Challenge: one whole month without complaining.

Of course, this has not meant ignoring legitimate problems. Will Bowen, author of A Complaint-Free World, makes a clear distinction between complaining and problem-solving. Complaining is making energetic statements focused on the problem at hand rather than the resolution, while problemsolving is speaking directly and only to the person who can resolve the issue. Continue reading