Again this week we’re going to start with an Old Testament reference and look at how Jesus instructs us to live it out under the New Covenent. The most obvious change is the day we celebrate (now Sunday instead of the original Jewish Sabbath on Saturday).
The Lord’s Day is meant to be the high point of our week where we not only worship but we bring all our offerings (good deeds, acts of love and sacrifice, etc.) from the prior week with us. When your priest is lifting up the offerings of bread and wine to God and praying that they will be acceptable, you should also mentally lift up your own offerings from the previous week and imagine them on the altar with everything else being given to God.
May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His name, for our good, and the good of all His holy Church.
Shortly after that, as you receive Holy Communion, you will get the graces you need to go out again and start the cycle all over. Hearing God’s Word, a good homily, and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ equip you to do more acts of love that you will bring back to Mass the next Sunday, and so on. It’s really a pretty amazing set-up!
The activity for this lesson is a game that will help your whole family learn about some ways to cooperate with those available graces by keeping the Lord’s Day holy. The preparation is simple – just gather a small token for each player and cut all the cards apart and mix them up, face down. From there, simply take turns drawing a card and following the instructions. “Spend your time during Communion in prayer thanking Jesus for the gift of the Eucharist,” move forward 6 spaces. “Don’t look for your lost shoe until just before it is time to leave for Mass,” move backward 3 spaces.
You get the idea.J
May is the traditional month to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and it happens to be the topic for classroom lessons this month so including your favorite statue or other image of her is an obvious focus for your classroom prayer table. Mary is one of the most popular subjects in all of art history so you’ll have no trouble finding something you like.
I chose this one simply because it’s a favorite of mine. I love the work of Fra Angelico and the Annunciation is my favorite Mystery of the Rosary and all the gold tones in this piece remind me of the glory of Easter, so out of thousands of choices this is the one I pick for this month.
I love her humility and youth, but I especially love the fact that her finger is holding her place in the book. I know, I know – that’s probably not the most compelling thing about this image but it’s such a great human touch and reminds me of a few things.
Traditional images of the Annunciation show that Mary was studying and praying when Gabriel suddenly showed up for his visit. She didn’t have an appointment for an angel to drop in an ask her to be the Mother of God, so seeing her pictured this way just implies that study and prayer were a typical, routine part of her life. (Lovely Example #1) It also seems to me that she is expecting God to work in her life and is waiting and to see what today brings. (That expectation is Lovely Example #2 to me.) This expectation means she’s ready to respond (“Be it done unto me according to Your word!”). She doesn’t have to clear her schedule or finish up something before responding. Anyway, those are a few of my rambling thoughts about the Annunciation. (I have lots more, but it’s time to hit the Publish button and get on to some other work.)
One more thing – the other part of this work can be found here. It’s not known if they were originally part of an altarpiece or if these two faces were cut from a larger work, but they clearly belong together.
If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.
This lesson starts with the Old Testament connection to the Temple, which contained a very holy place called the Holy of Holies, where the presence of God dwelt. When Christ came He changed everything and through the sacraments and especially the Eucharist He makes this place, our bodies, into living temples where He really and truly dwells right now.
The first activity focuses on this reality that your heart can be a tabernacle and that you should do all you can to make it a beautiful dwelling place for God. One of the things you can do is to focus better on what is happening in the Mass so you can enter in and really meet Jesus there. The Tabernacle of My Heart activity offers prayers for both before and after Communion (a time when it’s especially easy to get distracted by all the activity), and gives younger kids an image on which to focus and help minimize those distractions. We recommend you take a little time to let your kids decorate their Jesus pictures as beautifully as possible. (As much as I frown on glitter, I have to admit this may be a really good time to get it out and make your projects radiantly beautiful!)
The second project illustrates a concept so simple that it’s easy to miss just how profound it really is. Simply put – if I believe that Christ can live in me, it’s only logical that he can live in you as well. Obvious, right? The challenge is remembering that this applies to everyone including that annoying sibling, that mean kid at school, that terrible driver who cut you off on the freeway this morning, and even that person who wronged you so grievously that you wonder if you’ll ever be able to truly forgive him. Like I said, profound.
Most of us will spend our entire lives trying to recognize Christ in everyone around us and we hope to help your kids start that journey with the activity entitled Heartfinder Glasses.
Jesus, Your heart lives in all people I see
Teach me to love them as if they were Thee!
(And if you happen to get a photo of your little saints wearing their Heartfinder Glasses, send it on over. I’d love to post a few!)
Our thanks go out to everyone who helped make our 12th annual Family Formation workshop such a lovely success! We had volunteers for airport runs and overnight hosting, setting up, hospitality, greeters, praise & worship, speakers, people who gave official testimonies, parents who gave impromptu testimonies, catechists who shared their experiences, Catholic Academy and Give Him 5 awesomeness, kids who were engaged in learning about Jesus in Adoration, people who just took a little time to chat with the guests, people who pitched in to help with the clean up and morning-to-afternoon transition, and, of course guests who were curious and enthusiastic.
It just reminded us once again how blessed we are to belong a community of people who love to pass on the Faith!
I have to take this opportunity to remind everyone that we host a come-and-see workshop every year for DREs, priests, and parish leaders who are interested in learning more about Family Formation. Guests get a firsthand view of how this unique method works at our parish, and then more information about how to make it work where they are. The next workshop will be held on April 2, 2016, so go ahead and mark your calendar.