Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hands on Activity for Feast of the Sacred Heart

I've been brainstorming a hands-on way to teach my daughter about the Sacred Heart devotion. Although we could just read Father Lovasik's excellent book "The Promises of the Sacred Heart," I wanted to do a bit more.  So I dug around in my craft cabinet and found these items:

Small plastic heart boxes (purchased last February from my Dollar Tree), pink and red construction paper, and glue glitter pens in red, pink and gold, black permanent marker (not shown).

I decided to use the little boxes as a way to teach my daughter about the 12 promises.  I cut out little paper hearts that would fit inside the boxes.

Using Father Lovasik's book as a guide, I wrote a promise on each of the paper hearts.

Then I tucked each one inside a plastic heart box.

I took the cover of each box and wrote a corresponding number on it with a gold glitter glue pen.

I now have 12 boxes, each with one of the promises of the Sacred Heart.

How we will use the plastic hearts:
I will have my daughter select the heart with the "1" on it and open it. Inside, she will read the brief passage about the applicable promise (a great way to encourage her to read).  I will then turn to the matching page in the Father Lovasik book and read his meditation/prayer.  We can discuss each one, if she wishes, or just spend some time in silent prayer after the meditation.

We will be using these over the next few days in preparation for the Feast of the Sacred Heart (Sunday, July 1).  Can't wait to start!

Now you have a reason to buy those adorable plastic heart boxes at the Dollar Tree next February!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Favorite Find: Feast Day Learning Boxes

I've been fascinated by the Orthodox Christian faith since 2006, when my husband and I were in St. Petersburg, Russia on one of  trips to adopt our Russian daughter.  While there, we visited several Russian Orthodox churches and were able to experience Divine Liturgy.  The incense, the bells, the chanting and the reverence reminded me of my childhood Roman Catholic Church. Our pastor, Monsignor Lapinski, was slow to adapt to the changes of Vatican II, so I grew up with many of the church's older traditions. Church was an "other worldly" place; almost like a touch of heaven on earth.  You could not find that environment or ambiance anywhere else. The sole purpose of the Mass was to worship and glorify God, not to be entertained or amused or even "fed." (Not that there is anything wrong with being "fed" by the Word of God, but it seems that many people have lost their way -- they are most worried about what they will get out of Mass, not what they can give to God.)

The beauty of the Orthodox church and the reverence of the Divine Liturgy really touched my soul.  I decided that although we would raise our daughter as a Roman Catholic, I would try to expose her to the Orthodox faith occasionally.  It only seems right, since she spent her toddler years in a children's home sponsored by the Russian Orthodox church, and she was baptized in the Russian Orthodox faith.

Several months ago I discovered The Crafty Contemplative blog. Written by an Orthodox woman named Amy, the blog gives a wonderful insight into some of the feasts and traditions of the Orthodox faith. It's interesting to compare the similarities and differences between our two faiths.

I also discovered that Amy has a side business called Orthodox Christian Craft Supply. She specializes in "hands on learning for all ages."  She has put together a variety of inexpensive craft kits to help kids learn about their Orthodox faith.  (For my Roman Catholic friends: many of these can be adapted!) 

I purchased three of her "learning boxes" for these feast days: Ascension, Pentecost and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul.  Thought I'd share a bit about the Saints. Peter and Paul box since their feast day is celebrated tomorrow (Wednesday, June 29).

Basically, the learning box includes a study guide and craft materials to make several different hands on projects related to the items in the study guide.  Amy's kits are wonderful -- they include everything you will need for the projects, except glue.  Each project is packaged in its own little plastic bag, too.  No need to sort through the materials and figure out which items go with which projects!  Here are some pictures of the Saints Peter and Paul kit contents:

Can you believe this kit only cost $8?  It would cost me alot more if I had to run around town to find all the components myself.  

The Saints Peter and Paul box has five different projects.  Each project is specifically detailed in the included study guide. The study guide gives you a Sacred Scripture passage to read with your children, then a meditation, then simple instructions for completing the related craft project. The five projects in the Saints Peter and Paul learning box include:

Project 1: Saints Peter and Paul -- read passages in Luke about Peter, then create little figures of the saints with the included wooden pegs.

Project 2: Rooster -- read about Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, then create a miniature 3-D rooster picture

Project 3: Great Light -- read about the early church in Corinthians then create a small sun

Project 4: Scroll -- discover how we can learn more about God in the Scriptures and create a small scroll

Project 5: Church -- create a small wooden church. (The church is an Orthodox one with the signature onion dome, but I think it could be adapted.) 

All of the completed items can be stored in the box, which can be used at home (perhaps on a home altar or in a prayer corner?).  Alternatively, the box is easy to transport to church, to keep little ones occupied in an appropriate way during Mass.

We have just started putting together our kit, so it probably won't be done by tomorrow.  So I'll share a photo of the finished kit from the Christian Orthodox Craft Supply website:

Isn't it an amazing little learning box?  I can't wait to finish ours and will post photos when we are done!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Stations of Light Prayer Gems

Back in April, I gave a brief tutorial on a prayer aid that I developed for my children, the Stations of the Cross prayer gems.  (You can re-visit that tutorial here.)  I've updated that prayer aid a bit, and adapted it to help my kids learn the Stations of Light. 

The Stations of Light,which are also called the "Via Lucis," or "Way of Light," or "The Stations of the Ressurection."  They are a relatively new devotion in the Catholic Church. It was first observed in Rome in 1990.

Like the Station of the Cross, it has 14 steps.  However, these steps focus on the appearances of Jesus and the miracles that occurred after He rose from the dead.  When this is prayed as a group, a paschal candle is carried instead of a cross.  It can be prayed anytime during the year but is especially appropriate between Easter Sunday and Pentecost.  You can find out more about each of the various stations at the Our Sunday Visitor website here.   You can also find out more about the devotion here at the Archdiocese of Detroit website.

I wanted to teach this beautiful meditation to my children, so I created some prayer stones similar to the ones I made for the Stations of the Cross, but using images that represent the various Stations of Light.  You can use the icon-type images on the Archdiocese of Detroit website (listed above).  I found some beautiful full color images on The Bookworm

After downloading the images, I pasted them into Microsoft Publisher to resize them to the appropriate size to fit my clear glass gems.   I printed them out, sprayed them with a light coating of hairspray (to prevent bleeding or smearing of the images), then attached them to the back of the gems with Mod Podge.  I then sealed the back of the images with a couple of coats of Mode Podge.

I also printed out a set of cards to use with the prayer gems.  I punched a hole in the upper left hand corner of the images and thread them onto a reclosable ring.

I used a cloth bag to store my Stations of the Cross gems, but wanted to try something different. I purchased a "Craftmates Lockables" 14-compartment box on sale at Joann's Fabrics and Crafts. The glass gems fit perfectly in the compartments. I glued a picture to each compartment and numbered them from I to XIV.  (A good way to help your children learn their Roman numerals at the same time!) Now we can meditate on each station while looking at the cards and putting the prayer gems in their appropriate compartments.

Here are a few photos of my Stations of the Resurrection prayer gems and their storage container:

These prayer gems are so easy to make and would be a perfect craft for a vacation bible school.  I can imagine using them to teach the rosary or almost any other prayer.  It's just a matter of finding the right images.