During this week, the second week in Lent, I will continue to discuss Lent with my children, as we make our way with our Lenten sacrifices and prayers. I know that as a child, I really did not understand Lent, other than the Feasting and Abstaining. Of course, as an adult, I probably really only understand a small part of Lent, but my hopes are that my children will understand better than I did. I attended a Catholic day school as a child, but at that time (in the late 60s) the focus was on the sacrifice and not the reason for the sacrifice. We participated in the Stations, which I strongly recommend, but between Ash Wednesday and Holy week, there was not much educating.
This week brings us the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. While this feast day rarely falls during Lent, I can think of no better example for us to use in our Lenten life than Our Blessed Mother.
February 10 -- Jesus in the Desert for Forty Days
This Sunday's gospel is Matthew's account of Jesus being tempted in the desert by Satan.
● Talk to your children today about how Satan tempts us. I feel that many parents fear their children will be too frightened by talk of Satan, so they avoid the subject. Our children should be afraid of Satan -- so we need to teach them to be on guard. Teach them the prayer of St. Michael to help them deal with their fear.
● There is a game here (click Food for the Journey), about being prepared for a long journey, similar to Christ's time in the desert.
● You will find a worksheet here.
● Or download this entire lesson (Jesus is Tempted) on this Sunday's Gospel. I reviewed this material, and it appears to be Catholic, but the bible excerpts are not from the New American Bible. However, if it is not Catholic, I think the only thing you will find is the use of different words (i.e. wilderness instead of desert). There is nothing anti-Catholic in it.
● For another coloring page, go here.
February 10 -- St. Scholastica
● For a biography for children, go here.
● For a coloring page, go here and click on "Saints by Feast Day" and then St. Scholastica under February.
● For an online fill-in-the-blank activity, go here and click on St. Benedict and St. Scholastica.
● With the children, make an altar hanging or window transparency in the shape of a dove. You could just use wax paper and crayon shavings (and a warm iron), or use a more elaborate method like this one.
St. Scholastica Prayer:
O God, to show us where innocence leads, you made the soul of your virgin Saint Scholastica soar to heaven like a dove in flight. Grant through her merits and her prayers that we may so live in innocence as to attain to joys everlasting. This we ask through our Lord.
February 11 -- Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes
Lourdes, France, is the place where Our Blessed Mother appeared in a grotto to St. Bernadette.
● For a child appropriate explanation, go here.
● For a coloring page, go here and click on "Saints by Feast Day" and then "Our Lady of Lourdes" under February.
● Even though it is cold and frozen in much of the country, we can dream. And though we may have snow on the ground, we can still plan a Mary garden on this Feast Day. My Blessed Mother statue is in a front flowerbed, and while I try to grow flowers at her feet each year, she is standing under a shade tree, which steals both sun and water. This may be the year to move her, and surround her with the beautiful garden she deserves.
● I enjoy showing the children pictures of shrines and other special religious places around the world. In that way, the Internet works its own miracles. At the click of a button, I can show my children where sacred events have taken place halfway around the world. Click here to see the Grotto of Massabielle, where St. Bernadette first saw Our Blessed Mother. Also in Lourdes are The Basilica of the Rosary, and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
● On this site, you will find information about the Grotto, as well as a webcam at the Lourdes Grotto.
● To make a holy card with Our Lady of Lourdes, find a pretty picture on the Internet (Google Image search), print it on card stock and have your child write a prayer on the back. You can even have it laminated if you want -- just take it to an office supply or teacher supply store.
● Take this opportunity to place a holy water font in your home, if you don't already have one. Be sure to pick up a bottle to save your holy water in. You can also make a holy water sprinkler, or have the children work on this if they are safe with a pocket knife. Then each night, make it a practice to sprinkle all of the children -- I do the little ones while they are awake, because they enjoy it, and the older ones while they are asleep, because they need it!
● Play the matching game here ("Mary is Our Mother, too"). While there is no specific image of Our Lady of Lourdes, the focus is on Mary.
● Watch a movie about Our Lady of Lourdes today. There are several out there, but we enjoy "The Song of Bernadette." Young children may enjoy "Bernadette, the Princess of Lourdes."
● And here is an online crossword puzzle about Mary (click on "Mary").
● On Mary's Feast Days I find myself singing her hymns. Teach the children a few of them. This site has a wonderful collection of Mary Hymns, along with the music. Just scroll down and click on one of the song titles. "Immaculate Mary" will be playing in my head all day on Tuesday!
● Prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes:
O Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, you are the refuge of sinners, the health of the sick, and the comfort of the afflicted. You know my wants, my troubles, my sufferings. By your appearance at the Grotto of Lourdes you made it a privileged sanctuary where your favors are given to people streaming to it from the whole world. Over the years countless sufferers have obtained the cure for their infirmities -- whether of soul, mind, or body. Therefore I come to you with limitless confidence to implore your motherly intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the grant of my requests. Through gratitude for Your favors, I will endeavor to imitate Your virtues, that I may one day share in Your glory.February 14 -- St. Valentine
● For a biography, go here, and some more on the origin of St. Valentine's Day, go here.
● For a Valentine's Day game to play, check this out.
● I've pretty much covered Valentine's Day as a holiday here, but for a Catholic spin on sending Valentines try this.
● From Women for Faith and Family on Valentine's Day:
"When we remember that the heart of Saint Valentine was, like other Christian martyrs, 'pierced' by the love of Our Lord, and he shed his blood for this, it seems appropriate that the red heart is a symbol for this powerful love. We think about the power of the love of God - our love for Him and His for us - to inspire our love for others. It is this kind of love that gives heart (or "en-courages") to faithful Christians to accomplish deeds of extraordinary courage - even unto death - to bring the truth of faith to others. We are reminded, too, that suffering that often accompanies genuine love.
In our Catholic families, we can focus our thoughts, this day, not only in expressing our love for our friends and families (and yes, sweethearts) by gifts and loving greetings; but also in prayer and meditation on Scripture."
● A St. Valentine prayer:
Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You gave Saint Valentine the courage to witness to the gospel of Christ, even to the point of giving his life for it. Help us to endure all suffering for love of you, and to seek you with all our hearts; for you alone are the source of life and love. Grant that we may have the courage and love to be strong witnesses of your truth to our friends and family and to the whole world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.