This week, we’ve put together a slideshow of sacred art on the Annunciation that can help you observe the solemnity with your kids; also, we make an almsgiving checklist, try out fasting from toys, and remember saints Turibius of Mogrovejo and Blessed Sybillina, as well as the soon-to-be-beatified Oscar Romero. . . .
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Sunday, March 15
Read and reflect on the Sunday Scriptures [ages 3+]
Read and discuss the Sunday Scriptures before going to Mass in order to deepen your experience, and to help your kids become more familiar with the readings. For younger kids, paraphrase the readings, act them out, or find a picture book version to share.
The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and the house of Judah. . . .
I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
- Pray with these Scriptures using lectio divina; if you are unfamiliar with this practice, see Lectio Divina for Kids: Praying with Sacred Texts.
- All throughout Lent, the readings from the Old Testament have focused on the covenants that God has made with his people throughout salvation history. What kind of covenant does Jeremiah describe in this Sunday’s reading? How is it different from previous covenants?
- Point out that Christians understand Jeremiah’s prophecy of a new covenant to be fulfilled in Jesus’ death and resurrection (the link to this Sunday’s Gospel reading). Teens can read the notes on this passage in the New American Bible Revised Edition, or listen to Fr. Robert Barron’s exegesis on the meaning of covenant in his homily for this week.
- Can you name the other covenants we’ve heard about during Lent?
- This week’s Gospel begins with some Greeks who come looking for Jesus . . . but what happens to them? Why does Jesus respond the way he does to them?
- What are some of the ways we are called to “fall to the ground and die” in our everyday family life? What more could we be doing?
The Word for This Week
Post a line from this Sunday’s readings on your refrigerator or in another prominent place. Our suggestion?
Create a clean heart in me, O God.. (Psalm 51:12)
Monday, March 23
Turibius of Mogrovejo
Turibius of Mogrovejo (November 16, 1538 – March 23, 1606) was a professor of law who was named Archbishop of Lima, a move he protested to no avail. In Peru, he learned the native language, baptizing half a million people, and pushed to end corruption and abuses by the clergy and government officials.
Blessed Sybillina (1287-1367) was orphaned as a young girl and ended up working as a servant. However, when she went blind, she found refuge with a community of Dominican tertiaries. She prayed intensely to St. Dominic for a cure for her blindness. St. Dominic came to her in a dream and showed her a field of sunshine, but he told her, “Here, you must suffer darkness so that you may one day behold eternal light.” After this, she decided to become an anchoress attached to the Dominican church in Pavia, Italy, where she devoted herself to prayer and the counsel of pilgrims for the next sixty-five years.
Tuesday, March 24
Servant of God Oscar Romero
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez (August 15, 1917 – March 24, 1980) became Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977. After witnessing numerous violations of human rights, he began to speak out on behalf of the poor and the victims of repressionThe day after calling for soldiers to disobey orders to fire on innocent civilians, Archbishop Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass; it is thought that his assassins were members of Salvadoran death squads, including two graduates of the School of the Americas. Romero will be beatified on May 23 in San Salvador.
You can watch a short (under two minutes) news story about the making of the movie Romero that offers a good summary of the archbishop’s legacy.
Giving: Make a checklist of everyday ways to give [ages 5+]
This Lent, we’ve been focusing in a special way on almsgiving by checking in most evenings on ways we’ve gone “above and beyond” in giving to others throughout the day; every act of extra giving (almsgiving) means that we get to drop another coin in our CRS coin jar. (We use a jar so the little ones can see our progress.) One thing we’ve discovered, though, is that it is hard to go “above and beyond” the normal call of duty if you’re not intentional about it.
If you find yourself in the same situation, try making a checklist of everyday ways that your family can go above and beyond in giving, stretching those generosity muscles in our heart. Then spend the week trying to hit as many of the items as possible.
Your source for these easy-to-implement almsgiving ideas? The Random Acts of Kindness idea generator; under the heading Filter by Category, click on Everyday Kindness. Some of our favorite ideas:
- Tip big
- Return a shopping cart
- Park farther away from your destination to leave spaces near the store for people who need them more
- Be generous with compliments
- Say “Good morning!” (a challenge in our house)
- Create a giant thank you card
- Smile at five strangers
- Clean a friend’s house (or room)
- Help other shoppers
- Our variation on the above idea: Buy a bar of dark chocolate and leave it with a checkout clerk to give to the next harried mom or dad to come through the checkout lane with crying children. You get to make two people happy, since the checkout clerk gets the joy of giving, too.
Wednesday, March 25
The Solemnity of the Annunciation, celebrated nine months before Christmas, recalls the angel Gabriel’s appearance to the Virgin Mary, and Mary’s assent (her “yes”) to God’s announcement of her role in his plan of salvation.
Prayer: Meditating on the Annunciation with Art [all ages]
You can read or listen to a reflection on the Annunciation at AmericanCatholic.org, then head back over to Peanut Butter & Grace for a slideshow of art depicting the Annunciation, accompanied by the words of the prayers for that decade of the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary. You can try praying the Annunciation with your kids while watching the slideshow…or just sit back and talk to them about the different ways artists have envisioned this event through the centuries. If your kids were going to make a painting of the Annunciation, what would it look like?
Finally, find the readings for the Annunciation here.
Thursday, March 26
Saint Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès
Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès (June 29, 1832 – March 23, 1914)was a Lebanese Maronite nun who was canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 10, 2001.
Prayer: Two options for the Way of the Cross
If you haven’t prayed the Stations of the Cross as a family yet, consider finding out when the Stations will be observed at your parish. Or pray them at home as a family using the Audio Stations of the Cross or the Scriptural Stations of the Cross provided by the USCCB. You can look up our article on the Stations of the Cross for Families for more ideas.
Friday, March 27
Fasting: Fasting from Toys [ages 3-10]
The Children of the Church blog has great ideas for practicing fasting with children, including Quiet Fridays, but the idea we like best this week involves fasting from toys. Nicole says about this experience:
A few weeks before Lent I went through and packed up 12 huge garbage bags of toys! . . . Anyway, I put all of these bags in a locked storage room in our basement and left them for a few weeks. Guess what, NO ONE NOTICED THEY WERE GONE!!
Read her full article for more about this and other ideas for fasting with kids.
Catholic Cuisine offers us a meatless dish from El Salvador, especially appropriate this week with the anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Casamiento is black beans and hot rice seasoned with garlic, onion and bell peppers.
Saturday, March 28
Read the Pope’s words about children to your kids [ages 8+]
Listing some of the other gifts that children bring to humanity the Pope highlighted their way of seeing reality, “with a confident and pure gaze. Children have a spontaneous trust in mom and dad and they have a spontaneous trust in God, in Jesus, and in the Madonna. At the same time, their inner gaze is pure, not yet tainted by malice, duplicity, and the ‘incrustation’ of life that harden one’s heart. We know that even children have original sin, that they can be selfish, but they retain a purity and an inner simplicity. Children are not diplomats: they say what they feel, they say what they see, directly. And many times they make parents uncomfortable, saying in front of other people: ‘I don’t like this because it’s ugly.’ But children say what they see. They aren’t split persons; they still haven’t learned that science of duplicity that we adults have unfortunately learned.”Children also bring with them ability to receive and to give affection. “Tenderness is having a heart ‘of flesh’ and not ‘of stone’, as the Bible says,” Pope Francis noted. “Tenderness is also poetry. It is ‘feeling’ things and events, not treating them as mere objects only to use them because they they’re useful.”The ability to smile and to cry is another gift that children bring, one which “we grown-ups often ‘block out’… Many times our smile becomes a cardboard one, something lifeless and cold or even an artificial, clown’s smile. Children smile and cry spontaneously. It always comes from the heart, and often our hearts are closed and we lose this ability to smile and to cry. Children, then, can teach us how to smile and how to cry again. … This is why Jesus invites his disciples to ‘become like children’ because ‘the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’.”“Children bring life, joy, hope, even troubles. But life is like that. They certainly also bring worries and, at times, many problems. But a society with these worries and problems is a better one than a society that is sad and gray because it is childless! And when we see a society with a birthrate of just 1%,” he concluded, “we can say that that is a sad and gray society because it is without children.”
This week in The Grace:
God Never Asked Me to Worry about My Kids by Becky Arganbright