This week we celebrate Pentecost with thirteen candles and a handful of questions about the Holy Spirit. Plus: Prayers to the Holy Spirit, three ways to promote “please” and “may I?” in your home, the feast days of St. Philip Neri and St. Joan of Arc, and more.
Get family faith formation ideas for the coming week delivered to your inbox every Thursday.
The Week at a Glance
Younger kids: Act out, paraphrase, or read a kids’ version of one of Sunday’s readings. The first reading is very dramatic! How are wind and flame good symbols of the Holy Spirit?
Older kids: Have your kids read the Sunday Scriptures before Mass (Saturday evening works well). Then explore the Scriptures with these activities:
- Ask: What line or image from these readings stood out for you? Why?
- Ask: Did you notice a common theme or connection between the readings? It should be easy this week…all the readings are about the Holy Spirit! How do the readings inform one another? That is, what light does the first reading shed on the Gospel reading? What new dimension does the second reading open up?
- Study: Read the Scriptures in their original context and check out scholarly notes in the New American Bible Revised Edition. The links atr the top of this article will take you to the Scripture text in the NABRE.
- Advanced Bible study: Explore the readings in greater depth at The Sunday Website.
- Ask: How do these readings call us to live as a family?
Practice lectio divina
Read one of this week’s Scripture readings (or a few verses) slowly and prayerfully with your kids a few times. For more about how to do lectio divina with kids of all ages, see Lectio Divina for Kids: Praying with Sacred Texts.
Pray a Novena for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit
This week, try praying a Novena for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit with your kids. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Catechism 1831).
Teach your kids a prayer to the Holy Spirit
Here is a simple prayer to the Holy Spirit to try out with your kids this week:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.
Practice saying “please” and “may I?”
In his general audience for May 13, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of three little sayings in family life: may I?, thank you, and pardon me. In last week’s edition of The Bread, we focused on practicing thank you by leaving out a stack of thank you notes for kids.
This week, focus on asking May I? and saying please. Here are three ways to practice these polite words:
1. Play the Please Game, a variation on “Simon Says.” The leader issues commands to the rest of the group, who only obey if the leader uses “please.” Check out a video of the game in action in a classroom.
2. Play Captain May I? If you’re not familiar with the game, check out the basic game play at Wikipedia.
3. Count your pleases. Every day this week, have a little friendly competition to see who can use please and May I? the most often during the day. Each person can carry a set of chips or other tally markers with them throughout the day to keep track, or if you really want to get kids on board, invest in a hand-held tally counter, which you can purchase in stores or online for about $3. At the end of the day, count up your “politeness points” to see who “won.” Point out that when we are polite with one another, everyone wins!
Dr. Sears has an excellent little primer on how to teach kids to say please and thank you. His seven tips:
- Expect respect (and respect is rooted in sensitivity to others, which can be taught from infancy)
- Teach polite words early
- Model manners (kids, even older kids and teens, are great imitators of mom and dad)
- Teach name-calling
- Acknowledge the child
- Don’t force manners
- Correct politely
You can get the details on his seven tips in his article 7 Ways to Teach Your Child Good Manners. For an interesting perspective on why modeling polite words works better than “teaching” them to little kids, see Please don’t teach yiour child to say please and thank you over at SmartTalkers.
Talk about the Holy Spirit
Do your kids know the answers to these questions about the Holy Spirit? You’ll find succinct answers to all of these questions in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
- What do we mean when we say “I believe in the Holy Spirit”? (#136)
- How was the Holy Spirit at work in the time before Christ? (#140-141)
- How did the Holy Spirit work in Mary? (#142)
- Why are the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ inseparable? (#137)
- What does the Holy Spirit do in the Church? (#145)
Dinner question: What gifts would you ask the Holy Spirit for?
“To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit,” Paul says in this Sunday’s readings. Over dinner, ask your older kids and teens:
- What gifts would you ask the Holy Spirit for? The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Catechism 1831).
- What fruits of the Holy Spirit are most “abundant” in our family? The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity (Catechism 1832).
- Light thirteen candles at dinner sometime this week to represent the descent of the Holy Spirit on the twelve apostles and Mary.
- Shower of Roses has instructions for making a Holy Spirit windsock craft.
Meal game: Would you rather…?
Take turns asking one another “Would you rather…” questions. The Family Dinner Project has a whole long list of suggested questions, but here are a few with a Catholic twist:
- Would you rather hang out with Peter or Paul?
- Would you rather take a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or Rome?
- Would you rather serve the poor in person or by donating money and goods to an organization?
- Would you rather hang out with Pope Francis or Mother Teresa?