This week, we have nine ways to put a Catholic twist on Earth Day, four ways to celebrate the Feast of St. Mark, a sneak peek at the new Little Boy movie, suggestions for planning a neighborhood block party, a preview of this Sunday’s Gospel, and more.
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Sunday, April 19
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 author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses….”
But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ the righteous one.
He is expiation for our sins,
and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world.
“Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
- Pray with these Scriptures using lectio divina; if you are unfamiliar with this practice, see Lectio Divina for Kids: Praying with Sacred Texts.
- In the first reading, Peter is preaching in the Jerusalem Temple. What is his message?
- How does Peter act differently here than before the resurrection? (He proclaims Jesus boldly, and even accuses his listeners of killing the Messiah; before, he denied Jesus, and hid in fear.)
- The author of the second reading says that the way we may be sure that we know Jesus is to . . . what? (Keep his commandments.) What are Jesus’s commandments?
- When Jesus first appears to the apostles, they are frightened, because they think they are seeing a ghost. What does Jesus do to reassure them that he is not a ghost? (He tells them to touch him, and then eats a piece of fish.)
- How is Jesus different from a ghost? How is he different from an ordinary human being?
- How does Jesus explain his resurrection to the apostles? (He explains the sayings of the law, the prophets, and the psalms about him.)
- We will share in Christ’s resurrection. Based on the resurrection accounts we’ve heard so far this Easter, what can we say about own resurrection?
- If you have older kids or teens, you might listen to Father Robert Barron’s take on this week’s readings: in The Strangeness of the Resurrection, he points out just how surprising and counter-cultural news of the Resurrection would have been, even for the people of the ancient world.
The Word for This Week
Post a line from this Sunday’s readings on your refrigerator or in another prominent place. Our suggestion?
Lord, let your face shine on us! (Psalm 4:7)
Music: Lord, Let Your Face Shine On Us / Let the Sun Shine (Tom Booth)
Catholic artist Tom Booth has a wonderful song to accompany the responsorial from this week’s psalm. You can listen to it with your kids here, and then download it from Spirit and Song, or your favorite music service.
Monday, April 20
Plan a neighborhood party
“Love your neighbor,” the Bible says—but that’s kind of hard to do if you haven’t met your neighbor, or seen them since before winter. Organizing a neighborhood party is one way to start remedying that situation. It’s not as complicated as you think (if you keep it simple), and there are lots of benefits: building connections with your neighbors makes your home a safer (and richer) place for your kids to grow up, plus you’re modeling leadership and community-building.
We’ve been helping to organize a neighborhood block party for five years now; as old pros, the handful of neighbors involved in organizing the event pretty much know what to do to make it happen without any meetings. Here are the basic steps:
- Someone calls the city to apply for a permit to close the street.
- Someone calls the parks and recreation department to rent games and have them send staff (trained college students) to organize games for the kids.
- Someone makes up flyers to distribute to neighbors a month before the event.
- We put up signs, which we made at a local print shop.
- We hire a local musician and take up a collection at the event (about $100 for two hours).
- It’s pot luck, so everyone brings their own dish to pass, as well as utensils and place settings and seating. The three or four of us on the committee always buy a bunch of paper plates and haul out some extra chairs and tables.
- We print off Human Bingo game cards as an easy ice breaker. (Google “Human Bingo” for lots of examples.)
- We call the police, fire station, and local politicians, and invite them to attend.
- Some years we offer door prizes from local businesses.
The first couple years will be more work, but if it becomes a tradition, and if you recruit a few neighbors to help, it’s not that much work…and your kids will enjoy it, and meet the neighbors, who can watch out for them.
Need more guidance? Check out this Neighborhood Block Party Kit.
St. Agnes of Montepulciano
St. Agnes of Montepulciano (1274-1317) was known to pray in solitude to Jesus at the age of four, entered a monastery at age nine, and was made the superior of another monastery at the age of fifteen. She was so holy that some reported seeing her levitate during prayer. Learn more about her story at the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia.
Tuesday, April 21
Prayer: Te Deum
The Te deum is an ancient (fourth century) hymn of praise traditionally sung during Easter. During your family prayer time or before a meal, try praying it slowly and meditatively with your older kids and teens:
You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord: we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.
To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of
power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.
Throughout the world the holy Church
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy
of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.
When you became man to set us free
you did not spurn the Virgin’s womb.
You overcame the sting of death,
and opened the kingdom of heaven
to all believers.
You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come, and
be our judge.
Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.
Save your people, Lord, and bless
Govern and uphold them now and always.
Day by day we bless you.
We praise your name for ever.
Keep us today, Lord, from all sin.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your love and mercy;
for we put our trust in you.
In you, Lord, is our hope:
and we shall never hope in vain.
Wednesday, April 22
Nine ways to put a Catholic spin on Earth Day
Celebrating Earth Day? If you’re not, probably your kids are, at school. Take the opportunity to share with your kids some of the rich traditions around the Church’s care and respect for creation. If you have 77 Ways to Pray with Your Kids, look up Prayer Inspired by Nature for these ideas:
- Bless and praise God for his creation. Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers contains several blessings and prayers related to nature, and the Bible also contains numerous songs of praise inspired by creation. See Prayer Inspired by Nature for a list and links.
- Read the poetry of Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins. “The Windhover,” “Pied Beauty,” and “God’s Grandeur” are all good choices.
- Lectio divina. Follow the method of meditative prayer known as Lectio divina, using the natural world around you as a “text.” See Prayer Inspired by Nature for details.
- Examen. Use the Ignatian Daily Examen to reflect on how you encountered the presence of God in the natural world.
- Collect a bouquet. Collect flowers, pinecones, pebbles, shells, feathers, or other natural objects that show God’s glory and present them to God (or the Virgin Mary, or one of the saints) in a spirit of gratitude by placing them in your Home Oratory.
- Read the stories of saints who befriended God’s creatures. The next time you are sitting around the campfire, read the story of a saint whose love of God was expressed in his or her love of God’s creation. Click through to Prayer Inspired by Nature for a list.
- Use your time outdoors to share the Church’s teaching about the environment with your children. Find a summary, plus links to Church documents, at Prayer Inspired by Nature.
- Check out the words of Pope Francis. Pope Francis is working on the first-ever papal encyclical on the environment, due out this summer. (An encyclical is considered the most developed and authoritative of the teaching documents issued by the pope.) Until then, read The Environment’s Pope in Time magazine, or check out some of his quotes on protecting the environment over at Catholic Climate Covenant.
- Take the St. Francis Pledge. As the Vatican prepares to host a major summit on climate change later this month, consider taking the Saint Francis Pledge to Care for Creation and the Poor over at Catholic Climate Covenant, where you’ll find a wealth of resources.
Thursday, April 23
Saint Benedict Menni
Benedict Menni (1841-1914) is credited with restoring the Hospitallers of St. John of God to Spain, but his most notable achievement may have been his special mission to the psychologically disturbed. He founded several hospitals dedicated specifically to their treatment. “Banning use of the whip, Benedict insisted on a holistic approach, embracing both the moral and physical improvement of patients. He also recognised the importance of bringing women into his work,” says The Catholic Herald; see their full article, The Priest Who Changed the Way We Treat the Mentally Ill, for his full story.
Saint George was “a real martyr who suffered at Lydda in Palestine, probably before the time of Constantine,” according to American Catholic; however, legends about him slaying dragons and rescuing princesses are not considered historical. Nonetheless, if your kids love dragons and knights in shining armor, Shower of Roses has plenty of ways to celebrate.
Friday, April 24
Check out the movie ‘Little Boy’
The movie Little Boy opens this Friday, and it’s getting a lot of buzz as a story about fatherhood, the corporeal works of mercy, and the power of faith. Kate O’Hare describes it as the story of “a diminutive 7-year-old who follows his priest’s (Tom Wilkinson) advice and, armed only with “faith the size of a mustard seed,” goes on an odyssey to fulfill the “ancient list” — which Catholics know as the corporal works of mercy – in hopes of bringing his beloved POW father (Michael Rapoport) home from World War II.” Read her full review at her blog. The film stars some big names, including Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Ted Levine, David Henrie and “Bella” star Eduardo Verastegui, a devout Catholic whose film company, Metanoia Films, co-produced Little Boy.
Common Sense Media will post its review and rating of the film on the release date, April 24. In the meantime, here’s the trailer:
Saturday, April 25
Celebrate the Feast of Saint Mark
- Assuming that the John Mark mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul is the same person as the author of the Gospel of Mark, then we know quite a bit about Mark; his mother’s house was a gathering spot for many early Christians, including Paul, and he traveled for a time with Paul, Barnabus, and Silas. Find out more about Mark in 8 Things to Know and Share about St. Mark and His Gospel. Younger kids might want to listen to the story of St. Mark over at American Catholic.
- The Gospel of Mark, although the shortest and earliest of the four gospels, is one of the most detailed. To fully appreciate its riches, you and your teens can spend ten minutes reading the Introduction to the Gospel of Mark from the New American Bible, Revised Edition, at the USCCB website.
- Shower of Roses has a day-long celebration for the feast day that includes prayers, crafts, and Lion Cupcakes,
- We’ve mentioned it before, but it is worth mentioning again: Watch Max McLean’s one-man performance of The Gospel of Mark. Many scholars believe the gospel was written for oral performance (hence the fast pace and terse wording), and Max McLean does an amazing job of bringing it to life.
This week, The Grace is on break.