Posted tagged ‘Cycle A/B’

The Rosary for this century

May 12, 2015

A simple search of “apps for praying the Rosary” turns up about 540,000 hits of one sort or another, but the one I’m familiar with is free and very easy to use and has a simple interactive element that may amuse your children while they pray.  Laudate has tons of basic Catholic stuff (I always use it to follow the readings at Mass), and one of the things is a simple Rosary that keep count for you as you tap the next bead in the picture.


Not a lot of bells and whistles, but if your child is entertained by an iPad but you don’t want a lot of other distractions, this may be a good fit for you.  (And the price is right.)

Praying With Little Ones

May 10, 2015

The Rosary has been around a long time and is one of the most beloved prayers in the history of Christendom, so it’s no surprise that there are many, many ideas for doing it well.  I’m going to be posting some of the more family-friendly ones here and would like to start with some ideas from our archives.

Today’s idea involves a little preparation, but can be used over and over and is a very effective way to get your Littles on board.  You can find the details here.

Lesson Notes: The Holy Rosary

May 9, 2015

Reasonable and attainable are the two words I want you to remember as your family is getting into the habit of praying the Rosary.  Here’s a cautionary tale from my experience:

When we were first trying to learn this prayer together I thought about all the things my kids could do for 20 minutes (eat at a restaurant, watch tv, listen to a story, play a computer game, etc.) and I naturally assumed that this attention span would easily transfer to other activities.  I pictured a focused, reverent, consistent prayer time and maybe (just maybe) imagined what a good Catholic parent I was turning out to be.  Yay me!

The reality was more along the lines of chaos with a slight resemblance to prayer.  A couple kids moved in and out of saying the words they knew while another traveled around and around the pattern in our braid rug to the beat of her sing-song version of Hail Mary.  And, if I recall correctly, there was another child at the other end of the house crying, “No wanna pway!”  Yep, so much for focused and reverent.  As far as consistent went, I’m pretty sure my own lack of discipline was the end of that dream.

It was a little while before we attempted it again, and when we did it looked a lot different.  This time instead of starting our regular morning routine, I had all of my kids (all still Family Formation age or younger at that point) just start the morning in bed with me where we prayed 7 Our Father’s, 7 Hail Mary’s, and 7 Glory Be’s before breakfast.  I have no idea where that number came from, but starting our mornings praying The Sevens turned out to be a very successful way for us to learn the prayers and to establish a consistent morning prayer time, and this particular combination and repetition of prayers turned out to be a pretty effective transition into a real Rosary later.  And that’s what this lesson is all about – setting your family up for success!


Some of this lesson is going to sound familiar because you just did the lesson on Marian Apparitions.  The story of Lourdes is repeated here as well as Mary’s constant reminder to pray the Rosary.  In addition, this lesson has a little history as well as some practical stuff like the structure of the prayer (5 sets of 10 beads, particular mysteries to think about, etc.), and how all of the basic prayers fit together into the one prayer we call the Rosary.

This is all stuff that is helpful to know, but the whole point of the lesson is to actually help your family to pray, and that’s where the Praying the Rosary as a Family booklet come in.   It’s full of ideas that work, contributed by lots of Family Formation parents over the years.  We’ve divided them up into practical steps that can be used by everyone from those who have never prayed the Rosary to experts.

Holy Rosary Booklet - CoverWe also want to make sure to point out the copy of The Holy Rosary booklet that’s included in this month’s packet.  There are so many ways to use it!  Besides including step-by-step instructions on the basics of how to pray, each of the mysteries also include the following:

  1. A picture of what’s happening.  Perfect for little ones or anyone who would benefit from a visual element as they’re moving through the Hail Mary’s.  There’s nothing quite like a picture to help maintain focus!
  2. Scripture describing the Mystery.  Yes, Marian devotion can be very scriptural and really, the whole point of the Rosary is to connect us better to Jesus.
  3. Each mystery also has a paragraph describing exactly what is happening.  Perfect for auditory learners or anyone who would simply like more insight into the event.
  4. Finally, each of the Mysteries also has a short list of related prayer intentions.  I think you’ll find that these really help to make the Mysteries relevant to your life and they present good ways to personally enter into the prayer.

May God bless your efforts as you continue to work on this through the summer and we would love to hear your success stories, no matter how small, as they pop up.

Lesson Notes: Marian Aparitions

April 28, 2015


From time to time, Jesus sends His mother to appear to someone and give them messages about how to live in holiness in their particular time and place.  These appearances are know as Marian apparitions and the Church always investigates them very carefully so people aren’t led astray.  Over the centuries, there have been a number of apparitions that have the Vatican’s Seal of Authenticity approval and we’re learning about some of them in this lesson.

The Travel Guidebook will lead you through a brief study in three steps so your family can become more familiar with them.

  1. Find the apparition site on your map and color it.  This activity is a great way to get older kids involved since they have probably already developed some map skills and are comfortable with an abstract activity like that.  If you have a globe, you can also find where you are and then point out where the apparition took place.  For younger kids, just saying it happened on “the other side of the world” may be enough.
  2. Next, read the entry in the guidebook.  It’s a very brief description of the event told from the perspective of our three guides, Mary Isa Appearing, Ben Appearing and Will Appearing.

Lesson Notes: Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy

April 18, 2015

Lord's Day

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

Leading with Beauty: Mary – God’s Masterpiece

April 17, 2015

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.

Lesson Notes: Adoration & Holiness

April 16, 2015


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!)

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