The Blessed Virgin Mary, our spiritual Mother is the Mediatrix of All Graces.
“Then, O sinner, whoever thou mayest be, imbedded in crime, grown old in sin, despair not; thank the Lord, who that He might show thee mercy, has not only given His Son for thy advocate, but, to encourage thee to greater confidence, has provided thee with a mediatress who by her prayers obtains whatever she wills. Go then, have recourse to Mary, and thou wilt be saved.” -St. Bernard, Doctor of the Church
Two months each year are set aside to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The month of May is dedicated to Mary the Mother of God and Mother of the Church and October is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. In May there are many ways to celebrate. We shared a little bit about the May Crowning tradition on our Session 23 post. For October it is all about the significance of the Most Holy Rosary. You can read more on our October is Dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary post.
“The foundation of all our confidence. . . is found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. For God has committed to Mary the treasury of all good things, in order that everyone may know that through her are obtained every hope, every grace, and all salvation. For this is his will, that we obtain everything through Mary.”
–Pope Pius IX in the encyclical Ubipriinum
A great way to teach your children about the Blessed Mother is to learn about the many titles, devotions, and apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You can do this by reading some books together, praying the rosary as a family, and crafting. I have included a reading list and some quick crafting fun at the end. Reading Father William G. Most’ s article about the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding Mary being named the Mediatrix of All Graces is so informative. It was this article that had given me some spiritual inspiration for the month of October.
We are constantly thinking of ways to grow our Domestic Church. As our children age we are naturally drawn to different traditions. This is a significant feature of being a faith driven Catholic. The richness of Catholic traditions is so vast and beautiful there are many options for growing families to embrace. It is by looking for new ways to be inspired to learn and grow our love for Jesus that we can continue to stoke the fire of our faith. Beginning a new family tradition to add to your Domestic Church is a great way to catechize your children. After pondering about ways to make October exciting for our little children and if I can be honest we also needed a way to help organize our rosary collection. The first idea that came to mind was some sort of box.
What to put in it? What will be its purpose in teaching……….? I had many thoughts and ideas. What spoke to my children? What do children like to do? All the experiences and observations as an elementary school aged teacher were going through my mind. That is when the name came to me: Our Lady Box.
What is an Our Lady Box?
An Our Lady Box is a beautiful box (crafted by you or a purchased ornate box) that contains Rosaries, holy cards, maps, and miniature statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The purpose of this box is to make a more permanent learning tool about Blessed Virgin Mary devotions and Marian Apparitions. By creating a family Our Lady Box you can utilize a tactile and active tool to teach your children more about Catholic devotions and especially the Blessed Mother. Marian devotions are prayers and acts undertaken to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary with the intent of seeking her intercession with Jesus and God the Father.
This is foremost a devotions box. To get started learning more about Marian Devotions begin by reading this Arlington Catholic Herald article What are Marian Devotions and How Can They Enrich Your Faith to have a better understanding. Not sure if a devotions box is something that would resonate in your family then I suggest reading 12 Important Marian Devotions for Specific Needs in Life for some ideas on how to incorporate your Our Lady Devotions Box into your family prayer life.
How can you make your own Our Lady Box?
Begin by finding a box. Anything from a beautiful jewelry box to a simply decorated shoebox will do. Other ideas include: lacquered boxes, cookie tin boxes, plastic food storage containers, really anything with a lid is a great choice. Until you find the permanent box your family likes best why not start with decorating your own? This option might be the very best one to do as this will encourage your children to be invested in the project. Using a smaller shoebox or other small cardboard box such as a small gift box will do. With Christmas coming up many discount stores will have nice sturdy cardboard gift boxes available. If you found a great sized box but it happens to not be very attractive the easiest way to make it look beautiful is by wrapping it in paper. Gift wrap is the best way to make this an easy task. I suggest looking for gift wrap that is printed with roses or other beautiful flowers. Construction paper, butcher paper, wrapping paper blank side out….all of these are options too. No need to spend money on something until it becomes necessary. Handmade by your children will make for a beloved family item. In case you were wondering: Using blank paper and decorating it is even more fun for children. Not convinced? Think back to the days of making your own Valentines box for school…..see where I’m going here on this box decorating? Once your box is prepped and ready to go you can decorate it with cut outs of flowers from magazines or print out some of these, color, and glue/tape to the box. I think adding a few prayers from the Rosary and a picture of your favorite version of the Blessed Virgin Mary would be nice additions. Get as creative or as simple as you want.
Once your Our Lady Box is ready the next step is to begin collecting all the Blessed Virgin Mary Holy Cards you have laying around the house. Don’t have any? You can take a trip to your local parish and see if there are any available near any of the Mary statues. There are many for free online or if you want to get a head start look to buy a collection of them from your local Catholic supplies store or an online Catholic store. To get you started there is a booklet of Marian Devotions from the Archdiocese of Portland available to print. Another idea is to add this book: The Apparitions of Mary by Bart Tesoriero from the publisher Aquinas Kids.
After adding a few Holy Cards to your Our Lady Box I suggest finding special rosaries to include in your box. There are many types of themed rosaries. Some are inspired by devoted saints or Marian apparition sites. By having a few different rosaries available in your Our Lady Box you encourage children to look more closely at the rosary and get to know this prayerful tool. No need to make this task difficult or costly. Begin by checking around your home for some extra rosaries that could be put in your Our Lady Box.
Adding a few miniature Mary statues might take more time to do as they are not as easily found as larger options. After doing a brief web search this is not as an affordable option as I had imagined. We are using items in our home to fill the box and we happened to have a few pocket sized statues of Mary on hand. Many of the miniature resin statues are almost as costly as larger versions. As long as you are open to ideas one way is to fulfill this aspect is to use painted peg dolls. Peg dolls are a great option especially if you have very young children as these are very unlikely to be broken by curious hands. This is our favorite option at the moment as we have very young children at home. There are so many Catholic artists, especially Catholic mothers who paint these dolls at home. Supporting Catholic families is a great way to build your Our Lady Box. Peg dolls not your favorite? Then I suggest looking at your local Catholic supply store and find options that your family loves. Some ideas that come to mind are Shining Light Dolls, making a Mary felt doll statue, or using Mary paper dolls. (Links to making some of these in the crafting section below.)
There are several apparitions of Mary to choose from. I put together a list that can help you find ideas for Holy Cards and small statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Another option is to print out the Marian Bookmarks to color found on Katherine Bogner’s post: The Names of Mary bookmarks.
Below are the Vatican Recognized Marian Apparitions:
- Guadalupe, Mexico 1531: Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day December 12
- Lezajsk, Poland 1578: Our Lady of Lezajsk Feast Day
- Siluva, Lithuania 1608: Our Lady of Siluva Feast Day September 8
- Laus, France 1644: Our Lady of Happy Meetings Feast Day September 27
- La Salette, France 1846: Our Lady of La Salette Feast Day September 19
- Rue du Bac Paris, France 1830: Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Feast Day November 27
- Rome, Italy 1842: Our Lady of Zion Feast Day November 17
- Lourdes, France 1858: Our Lady of Lourdes Feast Day February 11
- Filippsdorf, Czech Republic 1866: Our Lady Help of Christians Feast Day January 13
- Pontmain, France 1871: Our Lady of Hope Feast Day January 17
- Gietrzwald, Poland 1877: Our Dady of Gietrzwald Feast Day June 27
- Knock, Ireland 1879: Our Lady of Knock Feast Day August 21
- Fatima, Portugal 1917: Our Lady of Fatima Feast Day May 13
- Beauraing, Belgium 1932: Our Lady of the Golden Heart Feast Day August 22
- Banneux, Belgium 1933: Virgin of the Poor Feast Day May 31
- Kibeho, Rwanda 1981: Mother of the Word Feast Day November 28
Your Our Lady Box should be in a place that is easy for your children to access. Including a few rosaries and a set of small sized Mary statues will invite the youngest of your children to play along with Mary. You may be surprised by the hours of playtime this box inspires.
How to use your Our Lady Box:
This is meant to be a fun and educational tool for your family to use. The flexibility this box has is up to you. In its simplest form you make it available for your children to explore. The Our Lady box is a great way to store and provide easy display of your statue and holy card collection. If your child finds something that they are especially drawn to then take a moment and tell them more; read a book about that holy card/devotion, say the prayer together, set aside time later on to learn more. The Our Lady Box could easily be made into a seasonal themed box. Replace the contents with holy cards and devotions that are selected on a monthly basis. In many homes it may be more fruitful to use the Our Lady Box only in May and October. The possibilities are endless. What it should be is personalized to your family.
- Our Lady of Guadalupe
- Mary, the Mother of Jesus
- Saint Bernadette and the Miracles of Lourdes
- Our Lady of Fatima: The Graphic Novel
- Print and color some roses
- Make a Mary Paper Doll set (paid resource)
- Make a Mary felt doll statue (this website has a few versions to make)
- Lily paper art
- Craft a Mary shrine out of a decorative lantern
For children I found an EWTN animated rosary: Animated Rosary for Kids
PS: It’s still the year of St. Joseph the holy spouse of Mary. Why not check out our post March is Dedicated to St. Joseph and add him to some of your prayers and activities this month? St. Joseph is the patron saint of many aspects of life. He is the patron saint of the Universal Church, fathers, unborn children, travelers, immigrants, families, day laborers, workmen, and a happy death.