Selfless acts of love
“Not that [Christ] might offer Himself there again and again, as the high priest enters year after year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own; if that were so He would have had to suffer death over and over from the creation of the world. But now He has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sins once for all by His sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that men die once, and after death be judged, so Christ was offered up once to take away the sins of many; He will appear a second time not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await Him.” –Hebrews 9:25-28
Watch The Veil Removed with your child.
We are continuing the discussion of the Eucharist. In Session 13 we learned that the Jewish people were slaves belonging to the Pharaoh. As part of their escape from the slavery they needed to use the blood of a lamb painted on their doorposts as a sign that would send the Angel of Death to Passover them. The sacrifice of the unblemished lamb saved many Jewish families from suffering the loss of their firstborn children. This was an act of thanksgiving or reparation that united God with His people in a covenant. Blood. Death. Killing. Not quite the light topic to approach with young children. In our modern society the act of sacrificing an animal for God is no longer customary. Many people would see that as a barbaric act. What we have found to be the most constructive with this lesson is to take a moment to provide the age appropriate Biblical perspective of animal sacrifices. In the Old Testament people brought animals to the temple to be sacrificed to God. When the animal was killed, the blood was collected and offered back to God to restore the relationship between God. Sacrifice deepens a relationship. The priests offered these sacrifices on behalf of the people. We want to emphasize that with Jesus dying for us there will no longer be a need to have a bloody sacrifice. The Mass is not just a meal. The Mass is a sacrifice and Jesus is our Lamb.
Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! – John 1:29
When John the Baptist identifies Jesus as the “Lamb of God” he is making it clear that this is the one who will be sacrificed for the sake of others. Because of our broken state of sin, there is no communion with God without a sacrifice. Jesus, our Lamb, is the un-bloody sacrifice offered up to God. He comes with His blood and gives it freely. Jesus, The Lamb of God, makes the final sacrifice. The blood of the Lamb, shed on the cross, takes away the sins of the world for our forgiveness, life, and salvation! Jesus’ story is violent, full of pain, suffering, blood, heartbreak, and yes, death. You cannot soften the truth of Christ’s Passion by leaving out the suffering and pain. Jesus’ victory over death is our victory too. Hiding the whole story of Easter, including the death of Jesus, from our children is to deny them Christ! Even the youngest child can read a cross. It says Jesus. Jesus died for you. Jesus loves you. Jesus forgives you. The Lamb is a symbol used throughout scripture. Children love animals and tend to have an innate compassion and tenderness for them. Tell them “Jesus is the Lamb of God and He died to take away the sins of the world.” Our children may not be able to verbalize all of the gory details of Old Testament sacrifices, connect it to Jesus suffering, and explain how His death gives us life. That will come with time and further understanding. Right now they can identify Jesus as the Lamb of God and that is wonderful! A good way to further introduce Jesus as Lamb of God is by singing the Angus Dei, or Lamb of God. If you teach it to the children at home you’re sure to hear them sing it again with you in church! Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, grant us peace. Watch/Listen: Agnus Dei Traditional Chant Here is a good version of the lyrics to see how it is sung.
This week is all about the Lamb and fish. For this upcoming Sunday’s First Reading we will be hearing from the Book of Jonah. This is a great reading to be applied to this week’s focus of Sacrifice. We will also hear from the Gospel of Mark about Fishers of Men. We have an assortment of activities for our fish based theme to wrap up this month. We will be on a short break from meeting until next month so we want to have a few extra things to do with the children until we meet again.
We’ll begin with Jonah. One of children’s favorite toys has been Hallmark’s Biblical plush toys. We have them all as they were originally purchased for classroom visual aids but have since become well loved toys. The Jonah and the Big Fish plush set is adorable and a great way to tell the story with an interactive visual aid. There was a companion picture book that goes along with this toy but it is no longer available on their website. I find that with their Biblical plush toys they often have them more available during the Easter season. Maybe the book will return later this year. Either way any picture book that tells the story of the Book of Jonah would be a reasonable replacement. I found a beautifully illustrated picture book called Into the Sea, Out of the Tomb: Jonah & Jesus by Maura Roan McKeegan. It looks wonderful and the reviews across the various sites I checked highly recommended it. In case you want to get a copy for yourself I have added it to our CCD Book list. Since we do not have those picture books we read from The Catholic Children’s Bible. (We sent the excerpt via email for you to use at home.) And used the Jonah and the Whale paper doll set (also sent via email) while reading the story to our children.
Let’s talk about some smaller fish and how the Disciples had a decision to make…..whether to follow Jesus or not. Mark 1:14-20 is the Gospel reading where we are taken to that day when on the shores of the Sea of Galilee Jesus found some fishermen. When Jesus approached them His presence was amazing. These men knew in their hearts that Jesus was something special but the idea of leaving behind a known life with family and friends to follow a stranger? That was a BIG decision to make. It was not easy for them to leave behind loved ones and their homes. What a leap of faith and immense sacrifice they made to walk away from their known lives to follow Jesus and one day become one of the 12 Apostles. Lucky for them it was the best decision of their lives and ours! So we have to ask ourselves do we make good choices to follow Jesus each day? How can we be The Fishers of Men too? By asking these questions it helps the children see the sacrifices the Disciples made to follow Jesus. I find this often opens up a great conversation with the children. (and Luke 5: 1-11 tells us his version.) Would you be willing to drop everything in that moment and walk away with the clothes on your back to follow a man you have never met before?
Adults Read: We suggested this book last session and we still think this is a good option for this session too 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn. For Children we suggest Tomie DePaola’s Book of Bible Stories, the chapters about Jonah and the Fishers of Men.
Vocabulary words to discuss with your child: Sacrifice, Mass.
Prayer of the Week: Act of Contrition. As we mentioned, choose the version that best suits your family. There are many versions of the Act of Contrition. The most important thing is that you find the version that you like and will become a part of your daily prayer life. The children who have committed an Act of Contrition to memory tend to have a better confession experience.
Saints of the next few Weeks: On January 20 is the feast of St. Sebastian, the patron saint of soldiers and athletes. There is an interesting post about Saint Sebastian’s Story on the Saints, Feasts, Family website. That is a great website that offers fascinating information about saints and includes recipes as ways to feast with the saint. On January 28 is the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron saint of students and Universities you can learn more about Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Story and the many ways he has influenced our Catholic traditions. There is him a short cartoon about him here. On January 31 is the feast of St. John Bosco you can read more about Saint John Bosco’s Story (with recipes too!) as well as watch a short cartoon about him. St. John Bosco is the patron saint of school children. He is a great one for our group and would be a wonderful saint to feature at home.
Homework First Year Sacramental Prep: Do the Victorious Lamb craft for Week 14. Use Mrs. Fredlake’s template to complete it or print the lamb from the link. Read from the St. Joseph First Communion Catechism: Lesson 11, pages 47-53 (this is a review of Session 12). Practice the Grace Before Meals prayer. Practice the Morning Offering Prayer. Your child should now know the following prayers: Sign of the Cross, Angel of God, Hail Mary, Glory Be, and the Our Father.
Homework Second Year Sacramental Prep: Complete Spirit of Truth pages 72-79. For the lesson on page 72, please use this reference sheet. These pages will be handed in at the end of the month. Read from the St. Joseph First Communion Catechism: Lesson 11, pages 47-53 (this is a review of Session 12). By now your child should know The Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the 10 Commandments, and an Act of Contrition. Keep practicing these every night. Check your email for the First Communion Mass sign-up. First Communions will be done in small groups during weekly Masses.
Homework Years 3-6th Grades: (This is the same assignment from last week, if you are caught up just work on prayer practice.) Read from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism: Lesson 26 pages 162-166, this was the same reading from last week, and Lesson 27 pages 167-176. Have your child do the Sacrifice of the Mass Worksheet to check for comprehension. By now your child should know The Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the 10 Commandments, and an Act of Contrition. Keep working on memorizing the Apostles’ Creed. Continue memorizing the Acts of Faith, Hope, and Love.
Applying your faith activity: Want to take a field trip? How about dropping by the parish to some see the hallway display of the Eucharistic Miracles. While there you can make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel or if you are trying to avoid people come and visit the Lord hidden in the tabernacle in the main church. From home you can teach your children some traditional Eucharistic hymns such “Sweet Sacrament” or “O Sacrament Most Holy” or one of the more modern songs, “I Am the Bread of Life”. Read the poem Little Lamb and look at the sacred art with your child. Emphasize Jesus’s title of Lamb of God. Have your child color The Lamb Victorious and teach your child that Jesus is the lamb who died, but conquered death and that is why He has the victory flag.
Additional Activity Ideas: Keeping the fish theme this week session’s activities we will get bigger as in Whale big. There are so many ideas to do for Jonah and the Big Fish. The few we found that would be fun to try are going to vary in their level of involvement. With whales on the mind making some origami whales looks like fun. There is a video tutorial for how to fold these whales on the webpage. If you want to do something easier there is a 3-D whale that can be colored and quickly assembled.
For an interactive project the clothespin Whale has been a source of entertainment in our house this week. I was unable to find a pre-made craft for this idea so I went ahead and have created the craft by doodling my own. This project will make two clothespin whales one 1 printed page. The only other supplies needed are crayons/markers/colored pencils, glue or tape and a clothespin. If you need help putting it together I suggest to look for help with assembling your clothespin Jonah and the Big Fish can be best seen at this blog post . I used double sided tape to make my sample which made it a really fast and easy assembly.
If you want to do something pertaining to the Gospel reading there are many crafts for the Fishers of Men lesson. This celery stamping painting of some rainbow fish looks like a lot of fun: https://www.craftymorning.com/celery-stamping-rainbow-fish-craft-for-kids/
Agnus Dei – Lamb of God craft is one that is relatively easy to do. You will need about 2-3 yards of yarn for each lamb, card stock or light weight cardboard, coloring pencils/crayons/markers, scissors, straws/pipe cleaners, tape, and possibly glue. Print out the lamb using card stock weight paper. Trace or glue it some heavier weighted paper or cardboard then cut it out. The children can draw a face on the lamb, color inside the ears pink, and darken the hooves, or leave it blank. It’s their choice. The stripes on the flag are to be colored red. We tape the flag to stir stick/coffee straws but a pipe cleaner will also do. Then using your yarn simply wrap it around the mid-section of the lamb until it looks as wooly-squishy as you want your lamb to look and feel. You can tape one end of the yarn to the back of the lamb, but I just start it off by wrapping the yarn around itself a few times to lock it in place for little ones to finish off. Depending on the weight and texture of the yarn you use will determine how much you will need. For my example I used an extra bulky weight acrylic yarn that feels lofty to give a more lamb-wool texture. (Yarn ideas: chunky luxe, irresistible, fleece lite, fur moment, or anything you like! ) When we make this in the class setting I provide the classroom with an assortment of yarn weights and colors. (I’m a knitter so this project is a great use for the yarn skein remnants to be used for lambs.) An alternative to yarn would be to glue some cotton balls on to the paper lamb. There is a second page with the Agnus Dei/Lamb of God prayer in Latin and English. We tuck this prayer slip into the backside of the wool of the lamb to be used when you are ready to say the prayer. The flag will be tucked into the lamb’s wool as can be seen in the picture. This craft is one that we make during the Easter Season to celebrate Jesus’ victory over death. You can add these lambs to your Lenten decorating, without the flag, then on Easter, add the flag for the Lamb Victorious!
Making a lamb shaped cake is another idea for an activity to focus on the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.