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A God Who Is Rich in Mercy (Fourth Week of Lent) | The Bread for Mar 15 – Mar 21

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This week, we’re reflecting on a God “rich in mercy”; plus, we’ve got ideas for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, the feast of St. Louise de Merillac, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, and the feast of St. Cyril of Jerusalem. Also: music for your kids’ Easter baskets, West African peanut stew, and celebrating spring. . . .

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support our IndieGoGo campaign, launching Monday, March 16.

 

Friday, March 13

Second anniversary of the pontificate of Pope Francis . . . read a summary of his reflections here.

 

Saturday, March 14
Pi Day

Sunday, March 15

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Readings for the Scrutinies

Collection for Catholic Relief Services

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.

2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23

Early and often did the LORD, the God of their fathers,
send his messengers to them,
for he had compassion on his people and his dwelling place.

Ephesians 2:4-10

God, who is rich in mercy,
because of the great love he had for us,
even when we were dead in our transgressions,
brought us to life with Christ. . . .

John 3:14-21

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.

Talking Points
  • Pray with these Scriptures using lectio divina; if you are unfamiliar with this practice, see Lectio Divina for Kids: Praying with Sacred Texts.
  • Help older kids and teens understand the historical context for the reading from the Book of Chronicles by explaining to them that it describes the Babylonian Exile (or Babylonian Captivity); see the activity below.
  • A theme that run through all three of this Sunday’s readings is God’s mercy. How is God’s mercy manifested in each of the three readings?
  • What does God’s mercy look like in these readings? And what can we take away from that example for our own family life? What does it mean to be “rich in mercy” in our family?

Activity: Learn about the Babylonian Exile [ages 7+]

The reading from the Book of Chronicles summarizes the events surrounding the babylonian Exile, one of the most traumatic–and formative–events in Jewish history. This event refers to the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, in 587 B.C., followed by the deportation of the Jewish leadership and upper class to Babylon, where they lived in exile. In 539 B.C., King Cyrus of Persia defeated the Babylonians, and allowed the Jewish people to return to their home and rebuild the Jerusalem temple.

The destruction of the temple and the exile were hugely traumatic events; many Jews wondered how God could allow such a awful thing to happen. Had God abandoned his people? And yet, the Jewish people emerged from the exile stronger than ever. It was during the exile that many of the books of the Old Testament took on their final form, and a system of worship based in synagogues was developed. Plus, many Jews continued living in Babylon even after the exile, marking the beginning of the Jewish diaspora.

Learn more about the Babylonian Exile, then retell the story to your younger children, or make a timeline of the events of the exile with your older children.

The Word for This Week

Post a line from this Sunday’s readings on your refrigerator or in another prominent place. Our suggestion?

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Monday, March 16

St. Louise de Marillac

St. Louise de Marillac (August 12, 1591 – March 15, 1660) was co-founder, with St. Vincent de Paul, of the Daughters of Charity. St. Louise de Marillac and St. Vincent de Paul focused much of their energy on organizing basic help and services for the poor, recruiting women from the peasant class to help reach the poor where they lived. Read a kid-friendly account of her life at AmericanCatholic.org.

 

Giving: Go grocery shopping for Jesus [ages 3+]

After reading the story of St. Louise de Marillac with your kids, imitate her example by donating to your local food shelf. While it is more efficient to donate money to the food shelf, having your kids actually round up food items is a great way to make the act of giving to the poor concrete and memorable for them. Here are some ideas:

  • Rather than simply round up pantry items, extend this act of Lenten almsgiving by taking your kids on a special shopping trip to the grocery store to actually purchase items for the food shelf.
  • As you shop, remind them that the saints viewed service of the poor as serving Christ, and encourage them to choose items that they would want to give Jesus.
  • Then, if you can, bring the items to your local food shelf. Again, you could drop the items in a donation barrel, but this activity will make a bigger impression on your kids if you take this extra step. Find your local food bank by looking it up by ZIP code at Feeding America.

 

Tuesday, March 17

Feast of St. Patrick [all ages]

St._PatrickYep, it’s St. Patrick’s Day, and this year, we’re lucky enough to have the saint himself blogging crafts, videos, activity sheets, recipes, and even a very complicated-looking shamrock hairstyle instruction over at his page on SaintNook.

Praying: The Lorica of St. Patrick

If you do nothing else to observe the day, begin the day by praying the Lorica (St. Patrick’s Breastplate). As a kid suffering through middle school, I found this prayer in an old prayer book and prayed it every morning for the better part of a year. It’s a long prayer, but here is the beginning:

I bind to myself today
The strong virtue of the Invocation of the Trinity:
I believe the Trinity in the Unity
The Creator of the Universe.
You can find the whole prayer, along with an interesting story about Patrick, at PatrickMadrid.com.

Wednesday, March 18

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

St. Cyril of Jerusalem was a distinguished theologian of the early Church (ca. 313 – 386). In 1883, Cyril was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII.

Holy Spirit Interactive has a great, kid-friendly story about St. Cyril and the attempt to rebuild the Jerusalem temple.

 

Thursday, March 19

Solemnity of St. Joseph

St.-Joseph-the-Worker2Celebrate with St. Joseph over at SaintNook, where they’ve collected various recipes and activity ideas, including a great decorative bread making activity (best done a few days beforehand, probably). And Between the Linens has a Novena to St. Joseph booklet you can print for free! (If you’re unfamiliar with novenas, check out this article.) Or head over to Shower of Roses to find out how to make a St. Joseph altar, and just where that tradition started.

And for something completely different, check out why St. Joseph might just be the patron saint of the Klingon empire. (Hint: St. Joseph is the patron saint of those seeking a happy death.)

 

Friday, March 20

First day of spring [all ages]

Celebrate spring (astronomical, if not meteorological) with this reflection on why it’s important for kids to connect with nature, especially animals. Also over at CatholicMom.com, you’ll find a ten-step plan for a spring garden party.

 

Fasting: West African Peanut Stew

Try this easy-to-make and yummy-looking peanut stew from Fr. Leo Patalinghug and Catholic Relief Services (printed recipe here):

 

Saturday, March 21

How about a little music in your kids’ Easter baskets?

In the past few years, retailers have been pushing to make Easter a second Christmas with toy sales and ever-more-elaborate pre-packaged Easter baskets, a pretty depressing trend that our family resists. On Easter morning, our kids get a boatload of Easter candy (I know, I know, so much better), eggs, and . . . a music CD from a Catholic or Christian artist. The kids love getting new music, and of course it is a super-easy way to encourage them in the faith all year long.

This year, I’m excited about a new (to me) Christian artist, Jamie Grace. The 22-year-old was home schooled with her sister, and grew up singing in church. Wikipedia describes her upbeat, positive style as blending elements of hip hop, folk, and pop; all I know is, the girl sure can sing. Her debut landed her a Grammy nomination and a Dove award for best new artist of the year. She’s not Catholic, but her lyrics focus on a lived experience of Jesus in the midst of the ups and downs of growing up. She touches on a lot of themes common to Top 40 pop, but always brings a strong Christian lens to the situations she treats. Refreshingly, she has a lot of positive things to say about her family in her songs.

I’ve already ordered Jamie Grace’s first two albums, One Song at a Time and Ready to Fly. These will go to my two girls, ages 9 and 12 (almost 10 and 13).

For my 14-year-old son, I’m pre-ordering Matt Maher’s new album, Saints and Sinners, due to be released March 17. Based on his last few albums, it’s a pretty safe bet to buy it sight unheard, so to speak. His Alive Again remains one of my all-time favorite albums, especially for Easter.

For the younger kids, I might go with Seeds Family Worship’s latest effort, The Word of God. This nondenominational Christian organization puts out kid-friendly worship music that sets memorable Bible verses to really decent rock and pop melodies. Seriously, this is stuff that even moms and dads can listen to without cringing. Plus, it’s a pain-free way for your kids to memorize a few Bible verses.

Do you have other suggestions? Share your ideas about Easter music and other religious-themed Easter basket goodies in the comments.

All the links in this article are Amazon affiliate links, which help support our family. 🙂

The Grace

This week in The Grace, two reflections on motherhood:

When Mothering Gets Tough, the Prodigal Son Inspires by Hofsa Mason

My Marriage Is the Best Way I Can Teach My Daughter to Love by Melissa Gordon

 

Have an idea or suggestion for The Bread? Send it along to info@gracewatch.org.

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