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Do your kids know about the Trinity? Holy Trinity Sunday is a good time to brush up on this central mystery of the faith…and to celebrate, too. Here are a few ideas and resources.

 

The Trinity is the “central mystery of the Christian faith,” yet most kids are a little fuzzy on the details. You can begin to remedy that by marking the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity with your kids. Here are some ways to celebrate the day, plus some talking points to get you started.

 

A Trinity Quiz for Older Kids

Do your older kids and teens know the answers to these questions about the Trinity? You’ll find succinct answers to all of these questions in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

  • What is the central mystery of the Christian faith? (#44)
  • What does it mean for us to believe in one God in whom there are three persons? (#48)
  • Do the three persons of the Trinity do different work? (#49)
  • What event in the Gospels showed forth the Trinity? (#110)
  • How do those who live in heaven experience the Trinity? (#209)

You might also show older kids and teens this short article from Busted Halo, or Fr. Robert Barron’s excellent video explaining the Trinity.

What is the Trinity? - YouTube

And here’s a simple diagram that might be helpful:

 

Symbols of the Trinity for Younger Children

Explaining the Trinity to kids can be hard when we as adults have such a hard time grasping the concept.

If you have younger children, make or find a traditional symbol of the Trinity and place it on your home prayer table. Traditional symbols include trefoil (the shamrock), the pansy, or the Trinitaria, a delicately perfumed white flower with three petals. Or make a triangle surrounded by rays, with an eye looking out from the center. As you make your symbol of the Trinity, talk about the unity of the three persons in one God.

 

The Sign of the Cross: A Profoundly Trinitarian Prayer 

This week is a good time to teach kids as young as two and three years old to say the sign of the cross. Let them attempt to imitate you as you slowly make the motions. You can explain to kids four and up some of the meaning of what they are doing. If you’re a bit rusty on the sign of the cross, you can get a refresher in how to make it reverently here:

Catholic 101: The Sign of the Cross - YouTube

Can you name the 21 things we do when we make the sign of the cross? Stephen Beale can, and does, in 21 Things We Do When We Make the Sign of the Cross. Go to his article for reflections on each of these items; here is the short version:

  1. Pray
  2. Open ourselves to grace
  3. Sanctify the day
  4. Commit the whole self to Christ
  5. Recall the Incarnation
  6. Remember the Passion of the Lord
  7. Affirm the Trinity
  8. Focus our prayer on God
  9. Affirm the procession of the Son and the Spirit
  10. Confess the faith
  11. Invoke the power of God’s name
  12. Crucify ourselves with Christ
  13. Ask for support in our suffering
  14. Reaffirm our baptism
  15. Reverse the curse
  16. Mark ourselves for Christ
  17. Remake ourselves in Christ’s image
  18. Soldier on for Christ
  19. Ward off the devil
  20. Seal ourselves with the Spirit
  21. Witness to others

You can also learn the history behind this prayer (which is actually a sacramental, a means of preparing ourselves to receive grace) over at the Catholic Education Resource Center.

 

Food for the Feast

At dinner this Sunday, share some foods with a Trinitarian theme. Italian Rainbow Cookies have three colors—they make a good dessert! Or cook something that includes “the Cajun Holy Trinity”: onion, celery and green peppers. Here are 18 recipes to try.

Strawberries were planted in medieval Trinity gardens because of their three-pointed leaves.

As always, for the ultimate roundup of fun recipes for this feast day, head over to Catholic Cuisine’s Trinity files, where you’ll find tri-color pasta, tres leche cake, a taco meal menu with a Trinity theme, Trinity cake and ice cream, Trinity cookies, and on and on. Those guys are so thorough.

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“It is the King of Heaven who sends me,” Joan told the commander of the French army, “and if you will follow my banner, God will help you break the siege of Orléans.”

 

This post is from MISSION:CHRISTIAN: A Journal for Catholic Kids on a Mission.

LIVED: Joan was born to French peasants on January 6, 1412, and died May 30, 1431. She lived during the last part of the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453), in which England attempted to take control of France. Th e war, along with the plague, had wiped out half of the population of France, which was on the verge of defeat by the time Joan appeared.

MISSION: Joan told Charles VII, the embattled dauphin (future king) of the French, that she had been inspired by divine visions to lead the French army in driving the English off French soil; she also promised that she would see him crowned king.

ADVENTURES: Joan made quite a spectacle when she arrived at the French army camp at Blois on a white horse, dressed in white armor and carrying a banner of her own design. A pageboy and heralds provided by the dauphin rode with her. Marshal Jean de La Brosse, commander of the force at Blois, together with his aids, met her.

“So, you are Joan the Maid!” he said, looking her over skeptically. “Th e peasant girl on whom Charles depends to bring victory aft er these dozen years of defeat?”

“Sir, she is the Maiden of whom the prophecies speak!” exclaimed the pageboy, which made La Brosse and his aids laugh heartily with scorn.

“It is the King of Heaven who sends me,” Joan said. Fire flashed in her eyes, and the force in her voice silenced their laughter at once. “If you will follow my banner, God will help you break the siege of Orléans, and the dauphin
will be crowned king of France within the year.”

“Well, that would be a miracle, indeed,” La Brosse said mockingly. “And just how does God intend to accomplish this?”

“We’ll begin with discipline and dignity,” Joan said, nodding at the disorderly camp. “All the men must go to Confession. Today! And then Mass, every day. And the cursing and profaning of God must stop!”

The sneer disappeared from La Brosse’s face. “This is your plan? This is what will bring us victory?”

“Only by relying on God will the men have courage,” Joan said, “and only with courage will there be victory.” And with that, she rode into the camp, leaving La Brosse to wonder if this strange girl had indeed been divinely sent. M:C

Learn more

Maid of Heaven has an extensive set of resources, including several stories, just for kids.

Here’s the Catholic.org 3-minute bio of St. Joan of Arc:

St. Joan of Arc HD - YouTube

 

Here’s the trailer for Joan of Arc, a film from Ignatius Press:

Joan of Arc Trailer - YouTube

 

 

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May 27- June 2: Eighth Week of Ordinary Time The Most Holy Trinity + St. Melangall of Wales + Pierre Toussaint + St. Madeleine Sophie Barat + St. Joan of Arc + Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary + St. Justin + Sts. Marcellinus and Peter

New to Family Time? Sign up to get the newsletter every week by e-mail.

 

WE’RE ON INSTAGRAM

Thanks to the suggestion of one of our readers, we’re now on Instagram @pbgparents. We’ll be posting our content there, plus a few random goodies…but mainly, we’re hoping you’ll tag us with photos of how you practice the Catholic faith with your kids at home. Sara Dethloff will be looking for your photos and re-posting to our page.

 

8 CATHOLIC THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS

1, Take charge of the stay-at-home-parenting blues. Plenty of stay-at-home moms (and dads) struggle with depression. What factors contribute to happy stay-at-home parents? And what can they do when depression strikes? Dr. Gregory Popcak digs into the research (and his own Catholic counseling experience) to provide some answers in Depression and the Stay-at-Home Mom: 4 Things You Need To Know.

2. Celebrate the Trinity. Sunday is the feast of the Most Holy Trinity, the day we mark our Christian belief in the triune God (God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). What do your kids know about the Trinity? Holy Trinity Sunday is a good time to brush up on this central mystery of the faith…and to celebrate, too. Here are a few ideas and resources, including videos, recipes, and a little quiz.

3. Reflect God’s love with your family. Families are the most perfect reflection of the Trinity that God put on earth. How does your family exemplify God’s love to the world and one another? In the readings for the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we consider the mystery of our triune God. Preview this Sunday’s readings and help make it all accessible to your kids with age-appropriate questions in this week’s Breaking Open the Word at Home with Jen Schlameuss-Perry.

4. Get your kids to Sunday Mass. In this edition of Brick by Brick, Father Brooke answers your question, “How do I explain to my kids that they have to go to Sunday Mass?” While “because I said so” is a fine answer (albeit ineffective at times), Father Brooke offers additional practical suggestions in video and text format to get your family going every Sunday.

5. Mark Memorial Day the Catholic way with a story about a brave priest and serving others. Memorial Day is here. Celebrate with the usual burgers and dogs, then talk, pray and serve.

  • Tell your kids about Father Emil Joseph Kapuan. A Catholic priest and an Army chaplain during World War II and the Korean War, he was awarded the presidential Medal of Honor in 2013, and his sainthood cause is in its initial stages. He bravely stayed with his “boys” while under fire, ministering to them last rites. He eventually was captured and imprisoned, but did not give up his ministry, changing the lives of many regardless of their religion.
  • Pray for the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Here is a prayer for Memorial Day from the United States Council of Catholic Bishops. More prayers can be found here.
  • Serve in memory of those who have served us. Volunteer to help clean up a cemetery, raise and lower flags where needed, properly dispose of and pick up trash where you are picnicking, host a garage sale to raise proceeds for veterans groups, and discuss other ways to help veterans in the future.

6. Purge your kids’ toys. Experts say it’s best to get rid of three-quarters of your kids’ toys. Here’s how Jerry Windley-Daoust and his family spent one Saturday getting rid of most of the toys in their house … and why fewer toys may be better for your kids’ spiritual health in The Toy Purge Challenge.

7. Meet St. Joan of Arc. Learn all about this fiesty teen saint whose feast day is Thursday in Saints for Kids. It includes a coloring page, a story, and two video clips.

8. Celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a big, printable coloring poster. If you’re a Gracewatch patron, download it for free at our Patreon blog; search under the downloads tag.

 

 

 

WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ONLINE

Follow us on our new Instagram page and tag us with photos of all the ways you practice the faith with your kids…we’re looking forward to seeing what you’re up to!

Our parenting page on Facebook, PB & Grace Parents, has been buzzing lately with a lot of talk about the Church’s teachings on marriage, depression and parenting, movies, books on Blessed Oscar Romero in light of recent news on his upcoming canonization, and end-of-school gifts for Catholic kids and teachers. It is a closed group to keep threads private so you will have to ask to be included. Welcome!

 

CAN YOU HELP US REACH OUR MAY GOAL?

In order to stay on track for our end-of-year membership goal, we need to raise about $50 in Patron pledges by the end of this month. Can we do it? If just 5% of the people reading this e-mail pledge $1 a month, we sure can. Patronage comes with perks, and helps defray the expense of developing our digital materials. Thanks for your support!

 

YOUR CATHOLIC CALENDAR

Our calendar web app features saints’ feast days and important Church events, with links to more resources, images, a variety of viewing options, and the option to sync with your own calendar.

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COMING UP . . .
  • Corpus Christi Sunday (June 3)
  • Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (June 8)
  • The Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary (June 9)
  • Religious Freedom Week (June 22-29)

 

ALL THE COOL CATHOLICS…

… are signing up their middle-grade kids for a different kind of summer reading club. In this program by Virtue Works Media, young teenagers pick their books from a pre-selected list. The kids then identify virtues in the material, record the virtues and earn points. Your kids can participate for fun or join a competitive..

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Plenty of stay-at-home moms (and dads) struggle with depression. What factors contribute to happy stay-at-home parents? And what can they do when depression strikes? Dr. Gregory Popcak digs into the research (and his own Catholic counseling experience) to provide some answers.

 

by Dr. Greg Popcak

 

Being a stay-at-home parent is hard, but does it cause depression? A recent discussion in the PB & Grace Parents Facebook group raised this important question. It turns out that there is more to this question than meets the eye.

 

Survey Says…

A 2012 Gallup poll found that 28% of stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) had been diagnosed with depression compared to 17% of employed moms (defined as mothers who have both a full or part time job and children under 18).

Of course, this alone doesn’t necessarily mean SAHMs are more depressed than employed moms.  For instance, it could be that working moms are just as depressed as SAHMs; but, between work and household responsibilities, they just don’t have time to seek professional help.  In fact, a 2015 Pew Research poll found that the majority of working moms continue to be frustrated by the uneven division of labor at home. As sociologist Arlie Hochschild observed, working moms often feel that, at the end of the work day, they have to go home to work their “second shift” as a homemaker. Many working moms are not only depressed, they also don’t have time to do anything about it.

 

Bridging the Gap:
The Ideal vs. Reality

Regardless, few people would argue that being a SAHM is easy.  And it’s clear that some SAHMs are happier in their role than others.  Similarly, because research shows that kids do better overall when raised by a contented and attentive SAHM than kids raised by either working moms or unhappy SAHM’s, there are certain women who would feel they should be home with their kids, but who genuinely struggle to make it work for them.

Is it possible to know which moms will be more likely to find real joy in being a SAHM or which moms just aren’t cut out for the role?  Or, for that matter, if a mom has chosen to stay home, but is struggling with it, are there things she can do to feel better about her choice besides going back to work outside the home?

 

What Makes a Happy SAHM?

Here are a few things research can teach us about the circumstances that allow certain women to enjoy being a SAHM, along with some suggestions for those who value the role of being a SAHM but currently find little joy in it. (What about stay-at-home dads? See the note at the bottom of this article.*)

 

1.They are securely attached

Research consistently shows that SAHM’s who were raised in affectionate, affirming homes that were stable, emotionally supportive, and employed consistent, gentle discipline are much more likely to enjoy being SAHM’s than less securely-attached women.  The term “attachment” refers to the degree a child has a gut-level sense that she can count on her parents to provide the temporal and emotional support and guidance she needs to thrive.

By contrast, women raised in less emotionally-affirming families-of-origin tend to exhibit either anxious or avoidant attachment.

Anxiously-attached women tend to be extremely scrupulous about their parenting, constantly worrying that every little misstep will ruin their children.  Their constant fear of failure and hypersensitivity to perceived (or actual) criticism makes it hard to truly enjoy anything about being home with their kids.  These SAHMs tend to experience both an extremely high commitment to being a SAHM with very low satisfaction in their role.  Depression can be a symptom of laboring under the constant weight of feeling that they are always wrong, always failing, and never good enough, no matter how hard they try.

Likewise, avoidantly-attached women raised in unaffectionate, unemotionally supportive families-of-origin tend to struggle to enjoy relationships in general.  Things like giving affection and being nurturing tends not to come naturally to them—and may even grate on them.  They tend to focus on the tasks of motherhood rather than cultivating rewarding relationships with their children. Although every mom gets tired of cleaning a room just to have to clean it again, avoidantly attached moms tend to primarily and almost solely view motherhood as a never-ending mountain of tasks that can never be completed. They may experience depression as a result of never being able to feel that they have accomplished anything.

 

WHAT TO DO: If you struggle in this area, the good news is that there is such a thing as “earned secure” attachment.  Anxiously attached women can learn to stop beating up on themselves, and avoidantly attached women can learn to enjoy being human beings rather than human doings. Books like Dr. Tim Clinton’s Attachments: Why You Love Feel and Act the Way You Do or Dr. Amir Levine’s Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment are good places to start seeking healing. Professional counseling can also offer tremendous assistance in healing attachment wounds.

 

2. They chose it

It is difficult to feel good about something that was forced on you. Research shows that mothers who feel obliged to be SAHMs primarily because of social pressure, or poor alternative child-care options, or other reasons, are more resentful of their role and more inclined to depression as a result.

By contrast, mothers who choose to be SAHM’s primarily because they see, not just intellectual or practical value in the role, but also emotional value in nurturing a deep relational connection with their children, creating meaningful family experiences, and maintaining a cozy home are much more likely to experience real joy in their role.

 

WHAT TO DO:  In psychology, an external control fallacy is the mistaken belief that I am a helpless victim of my circumstances.  This unhealthy thinking pattern makes us passive-aggressively push back against our “fate,” causing us to “phone in” our effort which, in turn, leads to a sense that nothing matters, nothing is enjoyable, and I can do nothing to make my life more meaningful.  Anyone can fall into this trap, but avoidantly-attached moms are particular prone to this tendency.

There may well be compelling, practical reasons for being home with your children, but don’t ever let that stop you from bringing your creativity, your intelligence, and your whole self to the roles you choose to play—whatever they are!  Happy moms don’t always love every part of parenting, but they make sure to put their own stamp on what they do and the way they do it.  Even when they are struggling to find the energy to do it, they treat homemaking and child-rearing as worthwhile professions that they are committed to being accomplished at and taking joy in. Research on burnout shows that when we feel uninspired by our work and roles, one key to recovery is making ourselves learn new ways to do what we feel are the “same old things.”  Each morning, ask yourself, “How will I create meaning, joy, and connection today?” Make these goals your priority, and resist the urge to simply coast through the day doing as little as possible, and doing it the same old way you always do. Books like Overcoming Passive-Aggression by Dr. Tim Murphy and The Corporal Works of Mommy (and Daddy Too!) by Lisa and Greg Popcak can be a huge help in these areas.  Counseling can also be a great help for reclaiming your sense of competence and creativity.

 

3. They have supportive, involved husbands (and other supportive relationships)

A recent Today survey found that 46% of moms find their relationship with their husband more stressful than their relationship with their children.  These moms complained of critical, unhelpful husbands who were poor helpmates around the house, disengaged fathers, and demanding spouses.

Happy SAHMs have husbands who are vocal about their support and praise for the work their SAHM wives do, are active helpers around the house, effective disciplinarians with the children, and engaged dads. Research by the Gottman Relationship Institute also shows that husbands of happy SAHMs exhibit strong emotional intelligence; that is, they demonstrate both the ability to genuinely value and appreciate her perspective (even when they don’t agree) and an openness to respecting and learning from her expertise (as opposed to just going along to get along).

Happy SAHMs also do what they can to cultivate other supportive friendships, but it is important to note that having supportive friendships does not tend to make up for having an unsupportive spouse in terms of the risk of depression for SAHMs.

 

WHAT TO DO:  Know that you have a right to the support you need from your husband to be a great mom. If your husband is a greater source of stress than your kids, seek marriage help today. Go to Retrouvaille. Seek professional, marriage-friendly counseling. If you were sick, you wouldn’t ask permission to go to the doctor. Your husband doesn’t have to agree that you need counseling (in fact, he won’t, if the current arrangement is “working” for him).  Talk to him about it, but whether he wants to or not, make the appointment. Let him know you’re going with him or without him and you’d prefer he be part of the changes that are coming. Get the help you need to have the husband you deserve and give your kids the father they need.

 

4. They can meet their needs

Happy SAHMs feel confident in their ability to meet their personal, financial and other needs—both on their own and with the support of the people in their life. They are confident in their right to say to their husband, “Honey, I need your help with X,” whether that involves getting a shower in the morning, getting help with a discipline issue, getting assistance with household chores, or any other temporal, financial, emotional, relational, or spiritual need they have—and they are confident that such help will be forthcoming.

If their needs are not being met, they see it as a problem that must be solved, not as a trial that must be endured. Silently. With much sighing and hand-wringing because they dare to even have needs much less hope that one day they might be met. Depression can result from the accumulation of unmet needs and the hopelessness of ever being seen as anything but a vending machine. Anyone can fall prey to this habit, but anxiously-attached moms are particularly prone to this tendency.

It is admittedly difficult to find the healthy balance that allows you to attend your children’s needs, your spouse’s needs, and your own needs, but happy SAHMs see this as a challenge, not as an impossible dream.  They use their creativity, assertiveness, and intelligence to find ways to achieve balance, gather new tools, and get the support they need to get their needs met.  They work hard to avoid polarized thinking; acting like they have to constantly choose between meeting their needs or anyone else’s.  They recognize the challenges involved in maintaining good self-care, but see it as a task that requires ongoing collaboration and communication with their husband and children.

 

WHAT TO DO:  Stop assuming that you are supposed to be a super-hero who is not allowed to have or express your needs much less expect that they should be met.  On the days you spontaneously feel even slightly more connected to your “best self,” write down the things that happened that made this possible. Did you get more rest? Exercise? Time to pray? Did you do something enjoyable? Pace yourself differently? Prioritize your relationships over certain tasks?

These are needs. Prioritize them. Talk with your husband and (to the degree that it is appropriate) your children, about how you can all work together to make these things happen on a regular basis. If your spouse or family are either not receptive or hostile to this idea, seek professional help immediately. This is an unhealthy dynamic that will undermine your mental health and the stability of your marriage and family if it is allowed to continue.

One book that can help you do a better job of identifying your needs and finding the balance that allows you to be a healthy, fulfilled SAHM is Then Comes Baby: The Catholic Guide to Surviving and Thriving in the First Three Years of Parenthood by Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak.  And, as above, counseling can be a great help to developing these skills.

 

Bringing It Home

No doubt you can think of many other challenges that make the life of the SAHM a challenge, but chances are, most of these other things fit into one of the above categories.

The more you have the skills and resources associated with the above four categories, the more likely you will naturally be able to find real joy and meaning in your role as a SAHM.  By contrast, the more oppressed (or depressed) you feel by your role as an SAHM, the more likely it is that you are missing some or all of the above.

No one can force you to be a SAHM. If you genuinely don’t want to do it, you are certainly free to do something else. There are many paths. But if there is any part of you that values the idea of being an SAHM, regardless of your personality or circumstances, you can find greater fulfillment if you commit to getting the resources you need to find meaning and joy in your role. It might take time, and it might take a little more effort than you thought, but your happiness and well-being—and the happiness and well-being of your family—is absolutely worth it.

To discover more resources to help you be a happy, healthy, fulfilled mom, including professional, Catholic tele-counseling services, visit me at CatholicCounselors.com

 

*NOTE:  Presumably, all of the above information applies to stay-at-home-dads as well. My experience in counseling a handful of SAHDs over the years certainly suggests this to be the case. Unfortunately, there is currently not enough research on SAHDs to be able to draw definitive conclusions.

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“How do I explain to my kids why we have to go to Mass every Sunday?” Father Brooke offers three ways to answer your kids, plus two helpful “bricks,” simple practices to boost your kids’ faith om this area.

 

by Father Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr.

 

Going to Mass...Every Sunday - Brick by Brick ep. 2 - YouTube

 

The Question

“How do I explain to my kids why we have to go to Mass every Sunday?”

 

The Answer God is Happy when we go to Mass

The easy and obvious answer is to remind your child of the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day. Furthermore, just as they as children have to do things sometimes, “because mom or dad say so,” we have to go to Mass on Sunday’s because God tells us to do so. Tip: Positively point out that you are grateful when they do the various things you ask of them, likewise God is happy when we go to Mass.

Unfortunately, the theological argument from God’s authority might not convince the average child, for their resistance to going to Mass every Sunday probably comes from a human, experiential level. So there is another way to try explaining this issue.

 

Set Expectations Straight: Mass is Praise and Worship

Firstly, it’s important to teach them about what Mass is and what it isn’t. Mass is not meant to be entertainment (that’s why we have Netflix etc.), nor is it all about community building (that’s why we have other parish activities). Rather, Mass is our praise and worship of God by entering into the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and the joy of the resurrection. This is why I always tell people that as the priest, “I’m not up here looking for an Oscar, I’m looking to lead you to Christ.”

One way to help your child understand why they have to go to Mass every Sunday is first by making sure they understand the nature of Mass so they aren’t walking away disappointed based on false pretenses or expectations.

With a better understanding of the nature of Mass as our praise and worship of God, then it can be helpful to point out how this fits into one’s entire relationship with God. For questions about how to teach your children about building a relationship with God, see “How Can I Teach Kids that God is Not a Genie in my first Brick by Brick by Father Brooke.”

 

Grow with God

Getting to the more particular element of the question, that is the repetitive nature of going to Mass every Sunday, there is an answer. Think of various tasks and chores your child does on a regular basis, things that they both enjoy and don’t enjoy. For instance: eating, bathing, laundry, going to school, practicing sports, playing an instrument, doing their homework, etc. Ask them what would happen if they only did those things once? They would be: hungry, dirty, smell, uneducated, bad at sports and their instruments, fail their classes, etc. In order for us to grow in our relationship with God, that is to grow in holiness, we need to keep going back to Mass.

 

The Brick

For this month’s “Brick,” I’d like to offer two practices that can help you teach your child about the importance of going to Mass on Sunday:

  1. Take your kids to daily Mass when you can. No, I’m not saying you have to take them every day, but when the opportunities come about, go to daily Mass. This way your child can see that Mass isn’t just a “Sunday thing.”
  2. On Sundays during your drive home, ask you children, “What was their favorite part of Mass today? What stuck out to them the most? What did they hear in the homily?” If you do this consistently then they will a) begin to notice that Mass isn’t exactly the same boring routine every weekend, and b) over time they will know the question is coming and so they will begin to pay more attention in expectation of the question.

To submit questions for future considerations, check out the PB & Grace Parents Facebook group, or contact me directly via social media @PadreGeoffrey (FacebookTwitter, Instagram).

Father Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr., is a priest of the Diocese of Jefferson City. He is currently completing an S.T.L. in fundamental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Additionally, he contributes columns to Catholic News Service. He can be found on all social media platforms with the handle @PadreGeoffrey, and his web site www.padregeoffrey.com

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In the readings for the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Sunday, May 27, we reflect on the mystery of God, who is three persons in one God.

 

by Jen Schlameuss-Perry

 

Readings

Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40
This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.

 

Psalm 33
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

 

Romans 8:14-17
You received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”

 

Matthew 28:16-20
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

 

You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:

Scriptures for The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Cycle B

 

Reflection

Today, on the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, we’re offered images of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that show their unity and their distinction. We see God as a community of love who has chosen us to participate in that love. In our first reading, Moses is trying to redirect the attention of the travel-worn Hebrews, reminding them of the goodness of God. He reminds them that God chose them to be his people; that God loves and protects them with great power, and God’s plan for them is freedom and peace. Moses tells them to “fix in your heart” the relationship that God freely gifts to us.

In the second reading, Paul tells us that if we allow ourselves to be led by God’s Spirit, then we are living as children of God. He echoes Jesus’ invocation of God as “Abba” (“daddy”), who we can go to with all of our problems, cares, concerns, fears, and worries. We have a God who cares deeply for each of us. And God sent us his Holy Spirit to be with us always and witness to our devotion to God.

Our Gospel reinforces the relationship that we’re offered through Jesus. The Apostles saw Jesus resurrected and about to ascend to heaven. They, “worshiped, but doubted.” Jesus gave them the mission that belongs to all of God’s children—to share the love that they have been given by their Father. They didn’t have it all together—they put their faith in Jesus, but they also had some uncertainty. We’re in good company that way.

But, that is the gift of God—we don’t have to be perfect to do what God asks us, but we have to try. God’s revelation of himself as a strong, protective Father, Son (a brother to us), and a Spirit that is always with us as a helper and advocate, is worth celebrating.

 

Kids

How does it make  you feel to know that Jesus is always with you?

 

Teens

What image of God resounds most perfectly with you? How does the mystery of the Trinity help you to understand God’s enormity and perfection?

 

Adults

How does being a parent help you to understand God’s love for you? How does it change how you relate to God as “father” or “daddy”?

 

Bonus Question

Families are the most perfect reflection of the Trinity that God put on earth. How does your family reflect God’s love?

 

A little lectio

The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.

 

A little Bible study

Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:

  • During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
  • Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
  • Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
  • Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
  • If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)

For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.

 

The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”

 

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May 20-26: Seventh Week of Ordinary Time Pentecost + Mary, Mother of the Church + Blessed Columba of Rieti + Blessed Franz Jägerstätter + Christian de Chergé + Mary, Help of Christians + St. Rita of Cascia + Emil Kapaun + Maria of Jesus + St. Bede the Venerable + St. Philip Neri

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8 CATHOLIC THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS

1. Celebrate Pentecost Sunday. What will you do with your kids to help mark one of the Church’s most important holy days? Here are nine ideas for praying, celebrating, and learning about Pentecost with your kids.

2. Pray for the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church to mark the Church’s newest feast day. Mary, Mother of the Church is to be celebrated annually the Monday after Pentecost to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.” Engage your kids in a bit of evangelization by brainstorming ways Mary would react to a problem in their lives, post it and hashtag #WWMD on social media. The idea comes from Pope Francis’ recent talk to members of the Focolare Movement in which he reminded Catholics that Mary, Jesus’ first disciple, was a layperson, and can be an inspiration in seeking answers to our tribulations. A super short history and context on the feast day can be found in this Vatican News report.

3. Eat cake with your kids. It’s the Church’s birthday after all! In the readings for Pentecost Sunday, known to many as the “birthday of the Church,” we celebrate the moment that the Apostles received the Holy Spirit through Jesus. Read a reflection, discussion questions and talk about the gifts of the Holy Spirit over cake with Jen Schlameuss-Perry in this week’s Breaking Open the Word at Home.

4. Teach your kids about the unique treasures of the Catholic Church. How do you teach kids the unique beauty of the Catholic faith? With a treasure chest and a lesson plan, of course! Becky Arganbright shares her experience and a ready-to-go lesson plan in the latest Confessing the Blessings.

5. Cook up creamy polenta and play a game of cards to celebrate the feast of St. Rita. The feast of this patroness of impossible causes is celebrated this Tuesday. Her story is one of dashed hopes and a joyful future. Cook up a simple recipe using ingredients from her home region with Theresa Wilson in this week’s Cooking with Catholic Kids.

While you are waiting to dig in, read your kids the story of St. Rita in Playing with the Saints! by Christine Henderson. As always, Henderson includes a fun card game, too.

6. Be liturgically intentional on the road. With Memorial Day right around the corner, you might already be planning out your summer road trips. Here are three ways to remember your faith while away from home, by Heidi Indahl in The Intentional Family.

7. Pray for seafarers and sea merchants. Tuesday’s National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea gives your children an excellent example of how the Church is fully and naturally integrated into every part of life and society. If you do not live in a port community, your kids might not be aware of the hardships and benefits of working with and living near or on the ocean: sustainable fishing, transport of goods, securing national borders, tourism. Read about the Catholic maritime ministry, the Apostleship of the Sea, and say a special prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the Sea, for the 1.5 million seafarers in our country.

8. Practice saying “thank you.” Don’t you wish you heard the words “thank you” more often in your home—even for the small stuff? Here’s a simple, easy activity to make saying thank you fun for your kids…and a prayer session to make the habit stick.

9. Catch Father Geoffrey A. Brooke Jr. on Relevant Radio. Fr, Brooke (of our new Brick by Brick by Father Brooke feature) was interviewed on Relevant Radio about how to avoid “genie parenting.” You can listen to the full interview here. Stay tuned…Father Brooke’s newest video for Brick by Brick will be posted in next week’s newsletter!

 

Get Celebrating the Wisdom of St. Patrick in 10 Foldable Minibooks
it’s a fun way to teach your kids the basics of the faith using the wisdom of St. Patrick!

We’ll mail your First Communion Journal first class for free through May 31.
Preview it in the Gracewatch store.

 

WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ONLINE

We are talking about resources for discussing the religious vocation with kids, promoting personal blogs and businesses, and sharing book and parenting ideas over at our PB & Grace Parents page on Facebook. It is a closed group to keep threads private so you will have to ask to be included. Welcome!

Also, congratulations to Sara Dethloff, our Pinterest manager, on her recent graduation from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota with degrees in business and theology. Sara’s next project for us will be launching an Instagram account, so look forward to that.

 

THANK YOU…

…to Theresa Clark and our 28 other patrons for helping to pay for the free family resources on Peanut Butter & Grace. Our patrons help us reach thousands of Catholic families every week…and they get access to free downloads. You can become a patron of Peanut Butter & Grace for $1 a month,

 

YOUR CATHOLIC CALENDAR

Our calendar web app features saints’ feast days and important Church events, with links to more resources, images, a variety of viewing options, and the option to sync with your own calendar.

 

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How do you teach kids about the beauty of the Catholic Church? Here’s a simple (but effective) lesson plan.

 

This presentation is the companion piece to Becky Arganbright’s article, A Lesson in Teaching Kids the Unique Treasures of the Catholic Church.

 

Direct Aim: To help kids understand the beauty of the Catholic Church and what unique treasures they will be leaving behind if they choose to leave the Church.

Indirect Aim: To learn about all the different treasures the Church holds, to see the beauty of priesthood and vocations, to have a greater appreciation and understanding of how the Catholic Church is unique and special, and that Jesus Christ is its founder.

 

Materials:

Gather the following items. Anything will work, but if you have a treasure chest to put them in, that is even better! Make sure that the kids don’t see them beforehand.

  • Statue of the Blessed Virgin (or a picture)
  • Saint cards
  • Picture of a priest (you can also use one of the vestments from the Liturgical Colors presentation)
  • Chalice and Eucharist
  • An outward symbol for Reconciliation—this can be a picture of someone in the confessional, the Act of Contrition, or a prayer book specifically for confession
  • A picture of the pope

You can add as many or as few treasures as you want, but I try to stick to the basics for the actual presentation or it can get a little long and overwhelming. Keep in mind the age of the child and the level of understanding so you can adjust your treasures accordingly. You also can have more treasures for the children to look at on their own after the presentation, as an extension of the work.

 

Moments of presentation:

Start by telling the children a little about the Catholic Church, how it is unique and beautiful, and has so many treasures that Jesus wants to share with us. I also add that the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus himself, and the Catholic Church was the first of all Christian religions.

Introduce your treasure box: “I have many treasures to show you. These are the treasures of the Catholic Church.”

(The children should be sitting for this and not crowding to see.)

Pull out the first treasure, which is the Eucharist and chalice and give it to one child: “Jesus comes to us in the form of bread and wine as true food and drink! This is the center of our faith, the best treasure of all, Jesus himself.”

Take the next treasure, which is the symbol of reconciliation, and give it to the next child: “Another treasure is reconciliation or confession. This is a sacrament that Jesus gives us to be wiped clean of all our sins.”

Pull out your next treasure, which is a symbol of the priesthood, and give it to the next child: “One very special treasure of the Catholic Church is the priesthood. God calls certain men to be shepherds just like him. Priests give us the Mass so we can receive Jesus in our hearts, and priests also help our sins be forgiven through the sacrament of reconciliation. Priests are very special.”

Give the next treasure (the Pope) to the next child: “This is our Pope; he is the visible head of the Catholic Church. The pope is like the big shepherd for all the little shepherds (the priests). He guides the Catholic Church to keep us close to Jesus. The Pope is a great treasure of the Catholic Church.”

Give your next treasure (the Blessed Virgin statue or card) to the next child: “This is our Blessed Mother. She is the Mother of all her children in this world, because Jesus gave her to us when he was on the cross. is a very special treasure for us because she leads us to Jesus, her Son.”

Give the next treasure (the saint cards, you can give it all to one child or spread them out between the children): “These are the saints. They are a very special treasure for us because they are our friends in heaven and they can help us become saints too. We pray to the saints for help when we’re in trouble or just when we need a friend. The saints are very special treasures!”

Now invite the children to look at their piles of treasures. “There are many special treasures that Jesus has given us!” Explain that there are even more treasures, but we can’t fit them all in this presentation.

After a moment, of pondering the treasures, now say to the kids: “Suppose you grow up one day and you drift away from Jesus. Or maybe there is something about the Catholic Church you don’t agree with. So you decide you don’t want to be Catholic anymore. So, sadly, if you leave the Catholic faith, you have to leave the treasures behind.”

(To stress that a choice is being made that they are choosing to leave the Catholic Church, I have the child put the treasure back in the box, rather than taking it from them, or else they will possibly come to the conclusion that they lost their treasures because you took them away. This is what the younger and more literal kids tend to do.)

“The Pope is our visible shepherd on Earth, but if you leave the Catholic faith, he won’t be your pope anymore.” (Have the child put the picture of the Pope back.)

“And even though Mary is the spiritual Mother of everyone, those Catholic and not Catholic, when you leave the Church you leave behind the closeness of your relationship with Mary.” (Child puts back the treasure.)

“Our saints are always our friends; however, just like with Mary, we’re not as close to them outside of the Church.” (Child puts back the prayer cards)

“Jesus has given us the special gifts of priests who can help us in so many ways. But if we leave the Catholic church, Catholic priests can no longer administer the sacraments of the Church to us.” (Child puts back the symbol for priesthood.)

“And because we don’t have priests, we can’t have Reconciliation.” (Child puts back the symbol for Reconciliation.)

“Most of all, we lose the greatest treasure of all, which is Jesus in the Eucharist.” (Child puts this back in the box.)

At this point, the kids usually look a little sad. Ponder the emptiness. Where did the treasures go? Ponder this moment with the kids, guiding them to the conclusion that the treasures were not “taken away” but they had to be left behind when they chose to leave the Catholic faith.

Now you can say something like: “But the happy news is that you Catholic! And so you get to keep these wonderful treasures!”

Give each treasure back to each child, briefly explaining (but with rejoicing) each treasure again.

End the presentation with the invitation to quietly explore the treasure chest a little more, to see what other additional treasures they might find and what they are used for.

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Don’t you wish you heard the words “thank you” more often in your home—even for the small stuff? Here’s a simple, easy activity to make saying thank you fun for your kids…and a habit for everyone.

 

Don’t you wish you heard the words “thank you” more often in your home—even for the small stuff? They’re just two little words, but they can have a powerful effect on your family’s mood, attitude, and habits of courtesy and respect.

 

Thank You Cards to Encourage Saying Thank You

Often, the way to encourage a habit is with a short burst of intentional practice. Here’s one way to encourage the habit of saying thank you:

  • Purchase an inexpensive set of thank you notes (check your local dollar store) and set them out on your family prayer table or on the dinner table.
  • When someone sees a family member doing something that deserves thanks, they can write that person a note and leave it at his or her place at the table (or on his or her bed).
  • When you kick off your “thank you campaign,” do a practice run together so you can model some examples.
  • At the end of the week, collect all of the thank you notes and do a little debriefing. Who did the best job of recognizing thank you moments? What did it feel like to be thanked? How did saying thank you change the mood of the family?
  • Post the notes on a door or another prominent place for another week as a reminder to continue the practice.

 

A Thankfulness Prayer

The ability to give thanks flows from an “attitude of gratitude,” which is itself closely related to our sense of God’s goodness. The Bible is full of songs of thanksgiving; you can use some of these in your own family prayer. The following prayer service is taken from The Catholic Family Book of Prayers, page 35.

 

Giving Thanks

Before praying this prayer, recollect the day as a family. Then invite each family member to respond to the invitation to give thanks, as each is moved.

LEADER: For what should we thank God today?

After each statement of gratitude, all respond with one of the following verses:

Psalm 9:1
I will give thanks to the Lord
with my whole heart;
I will tell of all
your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 30:4
Sing praises to the Lord,
O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.

Psalm 118:1
O give thanks to the Lord,
for he is good;
his steadfast love endures forever!

1 Corinthians 15:57
Thanks be to God,
who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (Thessalonians 5:16–18)

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In the readings for Pentecost Sunday, May 20, we celebrate the moment that the Apostles received the Holy Spirit through Jesus.

 

by Jen Schlameuss-Perry

 

Readings

Acts 2:1-11
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

 

Psalm 104
Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

 

1 Corinthians 12:3B-7, 12-13
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit.

 

John 20:19-23
“Receive the Holy Spirit.”

 

You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:

Scriptures for Pentecost Sunday, Cycle B

 

Reflection

It’s Pentecost—the birthday of the Church! We say this because it’s the day that the Apostles received the Holy Spirit and finally were emboldened to live the mission that Jesus had given them. It’s also Babel undone—where we put up barriers of communication through our sin, Jesus removes those barriers through his sacrifice. We are a Church of mission and a people of hope. It belongs to each of us that we should share the Gospel in every language for every hearer—so what does that mean? Preach the Gospel in the language of children, of the aged, the homebound, the struggling family, the widow, the newlyweds, the divorced, the abused, the addicted, your co-workers, your teammates, the poor, your friends, the disenfranchised. You have been given a unique language that no one else can speak—the language of your experience, your grief, your success, your insecurity, your parenthood, your creativity, your art, your music, your writing.

We have “different gifts, but the same Spirit.” And we are called to bring that spirit of unity, of belonging, of being loved and cherished to people who feel alone and unloved. You don’t have to look very far to find someone like that. Our world is broken and hurting and needs Good News. Our world is angry and needs reconciliation that only a relationship with God in a loving community can bring. Each of us has a language in which to speak it to bring healing, and each of us has people who only we can reach. We have received the same Spirit, and we are emboldened to live that same mission that the Apostles were given. Jesus gifted us the peace we need and the courage; and as the Father sent him, so he sends us. You are chosen. Be bold.

 

Kids

What do you think is the best way to celebrate the birthday of the Church?

 

Teens

What “language,” or gift, has God given me to use to help others? Who do I know who is in need of those particular gifts?

 

Adults

How do I experience God’s peace so that I can share it with others? How am I an agent for reconciliation?

 

Bonus Question

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are: Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Awe and Wonder. Tell one another which gifts you see in each other. Then have cake. It’s the Church’s birthday for goodness sake.

 

A little lectio

The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.

 

A little Bible study

Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:

  • During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
  • Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
  • Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
  • Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
  • If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)

For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.

 

The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”

 

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