Author Archive

Lesson Notes: God’s Covenant with Moses

February 21, 2015


Moses has a long, involved story – you can easily spend a week of bedtime story times learning about him (and you should!), but he’s especially known for receiving the Ten Commandments, and that’s our focus for this week.

There are multiple levels of “learning” about the Commandments (at least in my mind):

  1. We want our kids to be aware that the Commandments exist and to be aware of their divine origin.
  2. We want our kids to continually grow in their understanding of each of the Commandments.  (A lifetime endeavor, I might note.)
  3. But most of all, we want that understanding to be put into action as it transforms their lives!

And those are the goals of this lesson.

Besides telling a very brief version of Moses receiving the Commandments, the main part of this lesson is a list of the Ten with examples your kids can likely relate to.  When you’re preparing for this lesson, I suggest you do a careful reading of these examples and cross out the ones that are not relevant for your kids.  For example, if your oldest is just in kindergarten the suggestion that they “avoid telling or listening to impure jokes” may be less relevant than if you have a 4th grader.  All of these issues will need to be dealt with at some point in their upbringing, but if any particular point will cause more confusion than enlightenment, it may be best to save it for a few years when this lesson comes around again.


Why do we “bury” the Alleluia?

February 17, 2015

It’s an ancient custom to mark the solemnity of the Lenten season in some ways that get our attention.  Besides the purple vestments and more austere music, perhaps the most noticeable is that we do not sing or say the Alleluia.  “Alleluia” is a word of joyful praise.  It’s an Easter word, and setting it aside for 6 weeks makes it seem that much sweeter when we bring it back at the Resurrection!

coffinIn some places, a scroll or figure inscribed with the word “Alleluia” was literally put into a small coffin and was carried in procession to it’s burial place in the parish cemetery!  (Now that’s a dramatic lesson!)  We suggest you adopt a simpler version and just color and hide the banner from this month’s Lenten Activity Packet someplace where you’ll be able to find it again before Easter Vigil when the praises are resumed. J

(But if you do that coffin thing, please send photos!)


Fasting and Abstinence

February 16, 2015

From Canon Law:

Days of Penance

Can. 1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can. 1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.

Can. 1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

And from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.

For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal. Two smaller meals may also be taken, but not to equal a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.

If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

More information on fast and abstinence can be found here.

And find some practical advice for mommies and daddies here.


Lesson Notes: Ash Wednesday and Lenten Activities

February 15, 2015

There are eight activity choices in the packet – something for everyone, certainly!  It’s not our intention that you should do them all, but we hope you’ll page through and find one or two that are just right for your family and will enhance your preparation for Easter.

One thing that may be appropriate for everyone is the simple act of taking a few minutes to come up with a Lenten plan.  Lent is basically 6 weeks long and it’s easy for adults to forget how very, very long that period of time is for a child.  (I think that’s why Lenten calendars are so popular, as they encourage us to “check off” each day or week as it passes.)   Writing down your plan, as suggested on the first 2 pages of the packet, makes it easy to pull that commitment out periodically throughout Lent to help re-energize us and renew our efforts.  Help each of your children come up with a doable plan, and encourage them to write it down.  Then, tuck those papers away for a couple weeks and see how you’re doing at the end of the month.

lent plan

Lesson Notes: God’s Covenant with Abraham

February 14, 2015


Abraham is widely known as the Father of Faith, a title that he earned through a lifetime of extraordinary trust in God.  Early in Abram’s story, we hear God promising that his descendants would make up a great nation and that everyone who will ever live will find blessing in them.  Awesome, right?  The catch is that, at this point, Abram and his wife were both very old – well past child-bearing age – and they didn’t have even a single child!  It would have been very easy to second guess the original message, but instead, Abraham chose to persist in faith.  God had other tests for Abraham along the way, but the message of it all was, “Abraham, do you love me?  Do you trust me?  Am I first in your life?”  And these questions lead to our activity which is considering what kind of things are first in our lives, taking the place that God should rightly hold.

IMG_0664An altar is a significant image in the story of Abraham, so to prepare for this activity, cut apart the little altar cards in the lesson.  As you go through the focused questions on page 5 of the lesson, have anyone in 2nd grade and older start a list of sins to bring with next time you all go to confession.  Younger kids can also participate in this activity – it’s never too early to help them develop a sense of right and wrong.  Even if they can’t write, making a red mark inside the altar card is a simple way to indicate a way they’ve fallen short.

And then a perfect way to close this lesson is with the prayer inside the card.

Dear Heavenly Father,

I want You to be first in my life.  Please forgive me for the times that I have put things or people in the place that only You should have in my heart.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and give me a faith like Abraham’s, so that I can trust and obey You in all things.


Leading with Beauty: The Ten Commandments

February 12, 2015

The classroom topic for March is the Ten Commandments and this work by Philippe de Champaigne (1648 AD) would be a perfect piece for classroom prayer tables.

The interesting thing about this piece is that everything is so clear; almost photograph-like!  Moses looks like someone you’d meet in real life and the tablet is clear enough to easily read.  That sends the message that reading/knowing the Commandments is every bit as valuable as the beauty of the art itself.

If you want a reminder of what this Leading with Beauty thing is all about, click over here for an explanation.

Family Formation Novena, Day 9

February 11, 2015

For Family Formation’s future growth and direction; curriculum development, workshops, marketing, Spanish translation, and new products:

Novena, day 9


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 374 other followers

%d bloggers like this: