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Header - Family Tip 15 - Thoughts for Lent

 

“The important thing is to teach the child who he is, who God is,
and how God wants to mingle His life with his by coming to dwell in him.”

Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.

 

Lent: the 40-day period of preparation for the Death and the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here Holy Mother Church gives each of us time to follow in the footsteps of Our Divine Savior in a special way. At other times, we are called to imitate joy, expectation, diligence and perseverance. In Lent, it is self-discipline, self-control, prayer, penance, fasting and almsgiving that help us to curb our innate selfish tendencies and raise our hearts, our minds and our souls to God.

What better gift can we give to children?

Let us a take a moment this Lent to consider a few things that we can do to help “the little ones come unto” Him.

 

Benefits:

  • Lent helps the acquisition of good habits and the practice of virtue.
  • Prayer raises the heart and mind of a child to God.
  • Prayer obtains the graces necessary for a virtuous life leading to sanctification and salvation.
  • Penance will curb the effects of Original Sin such as selfishness, intemperance and pride.
  • Fasting, in particular, helps a child to gain mastery over their tendencies, desires and inclinations.
  • Self-Control which is one of the fundamental elements of virtue, it is obtained through penance and fasting.
  • Almsgiving teaches us to help those less fortunate than we are. It teaches us to be grateful for what we have received. It helps children to understand the difference between needs and wants.
  • Almsgiving also curbs selfishness by inviting the child to think of others and the needs of others.

 

Tips to help children with the 3 great Lenten practices:

Thoughts for LentPrayer is when we talk to God. Help a child do this by setting up the resolution to pray with him/her every day. It can be as simple as a Hail Mary, one decade of the Holy Rosary, or a whole Rosary depending on the child’s age and attention capacity.

Spend time with the child in front of Our Divine Savior truly present in the Blessed Sacrament on the altar. On your way to the shopping center or to a play-date for your child, take 5 minutes to greet or bow to Our Lord. This might not seem like much, but it instills in the child the importance of God as the center of life.

 

Penance and Fasting. To instill the practice of penance, simple things will do. Giving up something the child really likes and enjoys like a specific toy, is a good practice in learning penance for a child. It is important that the adult guide the child in this. Perhaps it is best for the child to start giving something one-day-at-a-time and renewing the resolution and the reasons for it each day. This helps the child learn and remember the importance of penance and the reasons it is necessary.

Fasting can take the form of giving up the last bite of a delicious dessert or the entire dessert. It can also be giving up a TV show or a certain game. Fasting can also be doing something we don’t want to do. For example, I really want to just relax and do nothing, but I go and spend time with someone who is alone. In this case, I fast from my own desires and wants. The key to these practices is doing them together with the child so that you lead by word and example.

 

Almsgiving can be done through the Church or in person. Help your child to drop an alms for the poor in the poorbox at your local Church. You can also provide the opportunity to help someone who is in need. For example, if you know someone who is elderly and poor, take your child with you to go and prepare them a meal and spend time with them. The alms being given is your effort and your time. Thus, it helps the child learn that alms can be given in many ways, not just financially.

It is commonly said that it takes 23 – 31 days to form a good habit. Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, gives us a wonderful opportunity in Lent to do just that, with a few days for consolidation.

It is an excellent time to help that child that you love so much to grow in virtue and in grace. It is the time in which you can help that little one form habits that help them become true disciples of Jesus Christ and true devotees of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In essence, it gives them the tools and the means to walk in the best way possible the path toward our Heavenly Home!

 

One last thought: We all understand that a young person needs to go study for whatever it is that they wish to do or be in life. A doctor, a nurse, a teacher, a priest, a business consultant and so on. In the same way, religion, Christian piety, good habits and virtue also need teaching and the BEST University to learn in is the home; and the best teachers are mom and dad. For this did the Creator entrusted his little ones to you.

 


 

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Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for August 12, 2020

The reformation of the soul starts in self-knowledge and con...

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August 12

The reformation of the soul starts in
self-knowledge and confidence in God.
Our self-knowledge will let us know
we have many things to correct and reform

and that it cannot be done by our own efforts.
Confidence in God will let us hope in Him, know that we can do all in Him,
and that with His grace all things are possible and easy.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

"What if God turned me away when I came back to him again an...

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St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Born at Dijon in France in 1572, Jane was very pious and religious from a very young age. In 1592 she married the Baron de Chantal, who inherited many debts along with his title. Despite the early financial worries, she and her husband were devoted to each other and to their four children. She restored order in the household, which was on the brink of ruin, and was generous with the little she had by allowing the poor to visit her home for food. Often people who had just received food from her would pretend to leave, go around the house and get back in line for more. When asked why she let them get away with this, she replied, "What if God turned me away when I came back to him again and again with the same request?"

In 1601, the Baron was accidentally killed while hunting. It was said he forgave the man who shot him before he died. Left a widow with four young children at the age of twenty-eight, Jane took a vow of chastity and begged God to send her a spiritual guide. In a vision, God showed her the one He had intended for this very purpose. During Lent in the year 1604, while visiting her father in Dijon, the young widow recognized the orator preaching the sermon as the mysterious director who had been shown to her, and placed herself under his guidance. Francis de Sales was the Bishop of Geneva and later co-founded the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary with her.

St. Francis de Sales’ method of attaining perfection consisted in always keeping one’s will united to the Divine will, in taking so to speak one’s soul, heart, and longings into one’s hands and giving them into God’s keeping, and in seeking always to do what is pleasing to Him.

The Order of the Visitation was founded in 1610 for those women desirous of seeking perfection but unable to subject themselves to the austere practices of penance and mortification in force in all the religious orders at the time.

Often sought after for spiritual counsel, Mother de Chantal would frequently advise: "Should you fall even fifty times a day, never on any account should that surprise or worry you, instead, ever so gently set your heart back in the right direction and practice the opposite virtue, all the while speaking words of love and trust to Our Lord after you have committed a thousand faults, as much as if you had committed only one. Once we have humbled ourselves for the faults which God allows us to become aware of in ourselves; we must forget them and go forward."

Jane Frances de Chantal died in 1641 at sixty-nine years of age and was canonized in 1767.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

I was in my first sleep when the sound of the doorbell...

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The Legend of the Locket

I was in my first sleep when the sound of the doorbell awakened me, whereupon I sprang from my bed, and, after a few hurried preparations, hastened to throw open the door. 

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It was a bitter cold night in January, and the moon without threw its pale light over the wan spectral snow-covered landscape. The sharp gust that swept into the hall as I opened the door made me pity the delicate-looking child who stood at the threshold.

Her hair gleamed with a strange and rare effect in the moonlight, long golden hair that fell in graceful ripples about her shoulders. She was lightly dressed, this little child, as she stood gazing straight and frankly into my eyes with an expression at once so beautiful and calm and earnest that I shall never forget it.

Her face was very pale, her complexion of the fairest. The radiancy about her hair seemed to glow in some weird yet indescribable fashion upon her every feature. These details I had not fairly taken in when she addressed me.

"Father, can you come with me at once? My mother is dying, and she is in trouble."

"Come inside, my little girl," I said, "and warm yourself. You must be half frozen."

"Indeed, Father, I am not in the least cold." I had thrown on my coat and hat as she made answer.

"Your mother's name, my child?"

"Catherine Morgan, Father; she's a widow, and has lived like a saint. And now that she's dying, she is in awful trouble. She was taken sick about a few hours ago."

"Where does she live?"

"Two miles from here, Father, on the border of the Great Swamp; she is a stranger in these parts, and alone. I know the way perfectly; you need not be afraid of getting lost."

A few minutes later we were tramping through the snow, or rather I was tramping, for the child beside me moved with so light and tender a step, that had there been flowers instead of snowflakes beneath our feet I do not think a single petal would have been crushed under the airy fall of her fairy feet.

Her hand was in mine with the confiding clasp of childhood. Her face, for all the trouble that was at home, wore a gravely serene air, such as is seldom seen in years of sprightly, youthful innocence.

How beautiful she looked!

More like a creature fresh from the perfect handiwork of God than one who walked in the valley of sin, sorrow, trouble and death.

Locket Upon her bosom I observed a golden locket fashioned in a heart shape.

She noticed my glance, and with a quick movement of her fingers released the locket and handed it to me.

"It's a heart," I said.

"Read what's on it, Father."

"I can't, my little friend; my eyes are very good, but are not equal to making out reading on gold lockets by moonlight."

"Just let me hold it for you, Father. Now look."

How this child contrived, I cannot say; but certain it is, that at once, as she held the locket at a certain angle, there stood out clearly, embossed upon its surface, the legend: 

"Cease! the Heart of Jesus is with me." 

"Mamma placed that upon my bosom one year ago, when I was very sick, Father." And kissing the locket, the child restored it to its place.

We went on for a time in silence. I carried the Blessed Sacrament with me; and, young as she was, the girl seemed to appreciate the fact. Whenever I glanced at her, I observed her lips moving as in prayer, and her eyes seemed, in very truth, fixed upon the place where rested in His sacramental veil the Master of Life and of Death.

Suddenly the girl's hand touched my sleeve-oh, so gently!

"This is the place, Father," she said in soft tones that thrilled me as they broke upon the stillness; and she pointed to a little hut standing back in the dim shadows of three pine trees.

I pushed open the door, which hung loosely upon its hinges, and turned to wait her entrance. She was gone. Somewhat startled, I was peering out into the pallid night, when a groan called me to the bedside of the dying woman.

A glance told me there was no time to lose. The woman lying in that room had hardly reached middle life, but the hand of Death had touched her brow, upon which stood the drops of sweat, and in her face I read a great trouble.

I was at her side in an instant; and, God be thanked for it, soon calmed and quieted the poor creature. She made her confession, and in sentiments of faith and love such as I have rarely seen, received the Last Sacraments of the Church.

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Standing beside her, I suggested those little prayers and devices so sweet and consoling at the dread hour. I noticed, as the time passed on, that her eyes frequently turned toward a little box at the farther end of the room.

"Shall I bring you that box?" I asked.

She nodded assent.

On placing it beside her, she opened it with trembling hands and took out the dress of a child.

"Your little daughter's dress?" I said.

She whispered, and there was love in her tones: "My darling Edith's."

"I know her," I continued. "She brought me here, you know."

I stopped short and caught my breath. The woman half rose in her bed; she looked at me in wonder that cannot be expressed. I, no less amazed, was staring at a golden, oval locket fastened to the bosom of the child's dress which the woman was holding in her hands.

"Madam," I cried, "in the name of God, tell me, where is your daughter? Whose is that locket?"

"The locket is Edith's. I placed it here on the bosom of her dress when my little girl lay dying a year ago. The last thing my darling did was to hold this locket to her lips, and say:

'Cease! the Heart of Jesus is with me.'

"She died a year ago."

Then the mother's face grew very sweet and very radiant.

Still holding the locket in her hands, she fixed her eyes straight before her.

"Edith, my dear Edith, we are at last to be united in the Sacred Heart. I see you, my darling: ‘Cease! the Heart of Jesus is with me."'

Her voice faded with the last syllable into silence.

She and Edith were again united.

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From Fr. Finn's Mostly Boys (New York: 1896), pp. 90-95.
Illustrations by: AF Phillips

 

I was in my first sleep when the sound of the doorbell

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