Exploring the Sacred Liturgy Continued
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.”
This week we are continuing to explore the Catholic Mass. To recap: Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. His last Passover meal was the first Mass. Jesus offered Himself freely as the perfect Sacrifice to the Father for our sins on Good Friday. At every Mass, we are made present at Calvary through the unbloody sacrifice of Jesus on the altar. (This is review from the past few sessions. Here is a useful form to help in Explaining the Catholic Mass.)
The Saints knew God will always give us the grace and courage to carry our cross when we need it most. The Mass is where they drew their strength. This week we want to look at the how the Mass has been the single most important piece of spiritual replenishment for Catholic Saints.
The Mass is the ultimate source of strength for our lives. Every time we participate in Mass and receive the Eucharist, our faith grows stronger, we receive greater peace of mind and soul, and we are better able to face the challenges in our lives. The saints are examples for us to follow. They knew the best way to face their fears was to receive Our Lord at Mass as often as possible. By going to Mass we are keeping that bond strong with God. Jesus calls us all to become saints as our ultimate goal is to be joined with God in Heaven. There are all types of Saints in our Church. Some could be described as being born holy, others needed to grow in holiness, and others had to be dragged into holiness. Just like all of us each saint was drawn to God’s love by following a unique path of their own. Many relied on attending Mass as a way to reconnect with Jesus.
“Until we have a passionate love for our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament we shall accomplish nothing.” ~St Peter Julian Eymard
“The Eucharist is the sacrament of love. It signifies love, it produces love.” ~St. Thomas Aquinas
“If we only knew how God regards this sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single Mass.” ~St. Padre Pio
The Catholic Church canonizes saints holding them up as sterling public examples of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. These are the people we should seek for guidance on our own path to sainthood. The Catholic Church has many saints who were martyrs. Our Church was build on the sacrificial love for God of countless saints. We call these saints martyrs. A martyr is someone who gives up his or her life for the sake of the faith. Many of these early saints were tortured terribly for choosing to remain a faithful Christian. Several of these martyrs were given by God the graces they need to undergo any suffering or trial. And to think that many of these saints were not able to attend Mass as freely as you or I can do in our modern times! Remarkable faith they had!
Today is Shrove Tuesday the last day in Ordinary Time before the season of Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. Carnevale (Farewell Meat) was a time of feasting by consuming the meat, butter, cheese, eggs, and fat before the Lenten fast. Traditionally on Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Tuesday) families would use this day for frying pastries as a means of using up the last of your oil, eggs, and other fats in the home before Lent. These food traditions created new ones over time and now we have celebrations like Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras we see in New Orleans.
The one traditional Lenten food is the pretzel. In the early Church the rules of fasting did not allow meat, dairy products or eggs. These small breads made from flour, water and salt were made to accompany the simple meals of fish, fruits and vegetables. Pretzels were a Lenten treat that was given to the children as a way to motivate them to learn their prayers. They began calling the treat “Pretiola”, which means “little reward” in Latin. The breads were shaped in the forms of arms crossed in prayer to keep a reminder that Lent was a time of prayer and penance. You can listen to a quick 2 minute story at the English Club A Pretzel is a Little Reward. Over time the word “pretiola” was replaced with “bracellae, or “little arms” likely as a result of the association of praying arms. Then as the treat was shared across Europe the word (and the bread itself) continued to change and we get our modern word “pretzel” from the German word brezel or prezel. One She Two She has a nice little lesson about Prayer Pretzels. Here is a good recipe to try for making your own Pretzels. This pretzel recipe is egg free is you choose not to use an egg wash on the outside. Brushing the pretzels with milk will also work to adhere the salt to them.
Every time you see a pretzel, remember this prayer: Dear God, We thank you for your son Jesus. We thank you for caring about us and loving us. Amen.
The Alleluia comes to us from Hebrew— Hallelujah and it means “praise Yahweh.” It is a term of great joy. We have a tradition of putting the Alleluia into the “tomb,” only to discover it again at Easter when the stone is removed and the Alleluia is “resurrected.” The practice of burying the Alleluia is a kind of fasting by letting the “Alleluia” lie dormant before the joyful affirmation of the Resurrection. The day the Alleluia returns is at the Easter Vigil, on the evening of Holy Saturday after sunset, when the priest chants a triple Alleluia before he reads the Gospel, and everyone present responds with a triple Alleluia. This is when families will bring the Alleluia back into the home and display it in preparations for Easter morning. You can read more about How to Bury the Alleluia Before Lent. We went to our backyard to bury our Alleluia in our garden box. The younger girls took turns digging a shallow hole to put our Alleluia board in. We printed off an Alleluia sign, had them color it, then we taped it to the board. We wrapped the board to protect it from water (we’ll see how well!) before placing it in the hole. If you would like to bury your own Alleluia you can do so in a less dirt in your yard way by folding up the paper and placing it under a few rocks in your yard. Catholic classrooms often bury the Alleluia under a pile of decorative rocks on the classroom prayer table. This can even work by putting the Alleluia under a houseplant. You get the idea.
Read: We recommend reading about St. Teresa of Calcutta. There are many books to choose from that are for both children or adults. For children Mother Teresa: The Smile of Calcutta by Charlotte Grossetête. For adults: Mother Teresa of Calcutta: A Personal Portrait: 50 Inspiring Stories Never Before Told by Fr. Leo Maasburg.
Watch: The Mass: A Life-Giving Prayer with your younger child. The Cenacle, the site of the first Mass, is a good video to watch with your older child. This is a brief tour of the Upper Room, where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper.
Prayer of the Week: We suggest for the older children to work on the Acts of…prayers. These tend to be the harder prayers to commit to memory as they do not quite have the poetic flow as many other prayers. While the prayers are not long they will require some effort.
Saints of the Week: St. Tarcisius, Mother Teresa, Padre Pio, Saint John Paul II,
Watch Catholic Heroes: The Story of Saint Perpetua with your child. Discuss how God provides the strength we need to carry even the heaviest crosses. (Warning for those who might be tempted to show this cartoon to their kids: like the original story, there is plenty of violence, it may not be good for our younger or sensitive children.) For more on some saints mentioned in the material there is the narrated story Mother Teresa: Seeing the Face of Jesus or the episode of Lukas Storyteller: Mother Teresa. There is another few to watch Lukas Storyteller: Padre Pio and Lukas Storyteller: Saint John Paul II.
Homework First Year Sacramental Prep: There is no craft for this week. Print out and have your child color The Eucharist Coloring Page. Use the Mass Vessel Flashcards available for pick-up in the ministry closet to help teach your child about the different vessels used during Mass. 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: Read from the St. Joseph First Communion Catechism: pages 53-55. Complete Spirit of Truth pages 87-90. These pages will be handed in at the end of the month. Print out and have your child color The Eucharist Coloring Page. Use the Mass Vessel Flashcards available for pick-up in the ministry closet to help teach your child about the different vessels used during Mass. 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.
***First Penance will be done independently see Slide 26 for more information about preparing your child for their first penance by doing an at home retreat. You will need to come to the Church to pick up a supply bag from the Religious Education closet for your child to complete the activities for this retreat. Check your email for information about the First Communion retreat and don’t forget to complete a Communion Mass sign-up. First Communions will be done in small groups during weekly Masses. See Slide 27 for more information. **
Homework Years 3-6th Grades: Read from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism: Lesson 17, pages 112-115. 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.
For the older students (6-8th) Read 1 Colossians 12:27 – “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Write about or discuss some thoughts on ways you can be an active member of the Church and strengthen the whole body of Christ. Listen to the story of Father Aedan McGrath, an Irish missionary to China, as he recounts his work there and how Our Lord and Lady sustained him with many miracles.
Activity Ideas: Thinking about the Liturgical Year is a good lesson to continue working on as we approach Lent. There are lots of ideas to help with this topic. We shared this previously about using a Priest Paper doll set that can be printed out to help you teach your children about vestments and the Liturgical Year. Catholic Icing has put together a good post Catholic Mass Crafts and Activities for Kids that has many more ideas.
Family Activity Ideas: Watch a movie! Mother Teresa available on Formed is a great movie about Saint Teresa of Calcutta. The movie was made well before her canonization but beautiful all the same. The Chosen is the first TV Series on the life of Christ, and Season One is available for free on YouTube.
Lent Ideas: Please encourage your child to submit artwork or a prayerful meditation for the Children’s Stations of the Cross at Holy Trinity. Pray the Stations of the Cross. Here are some great ideas about Doing the Stations of the Cross With Your Kids. Have your child color in the Stations of the Cross and use them every Friday during Lent.
A good start is a Good Deeds chart to keep kids looking for ways to help spread the love Jesus spoke about by offering their time for some extra responsibilities at home or in the community. Check out the 20 out of the box things to do for Lent for some ideas. Making a Jesus Tree is a good activity for the family. Perhaps trying out a family devotion book is something you would like to try. The activities are designed to do as a family and the one part that seems to be a favorite of many families is the creation of a “Lenten tree” by using the book’s illustrations. Plan your family meals for Fridays. Choose recipes for your Meatless Friday Meals during Lent. Favorite pasta? Cream-based soup? PBJ or grilled cheese sandwiches? Let your kids choose the menu and talk about the sacrifice of giving up meat on Fridays. Make a Salt Dough Crown of Thorns to display during Lent. Each time a member of the family offers a sacrifice, remove one of the “thorns.” On Easter morning decorate the crown with flowers. Some families choose to decorate the crown with flowers and ribbon and then fill the center with treats as an Easter morning treat for the children.