By Anna Sherman – Director of Religious Education, Holy name parish, Ketchikan
If I hear or read one more article about being in “uncharted territory” or “during this unprecedented time,” I am going to lose my mind. We all know this now, and we are stressed out, working from home, freaking out when someone coughs, and on the edge of becoming hypochondriacs ourselves. We are stuck at home, maybe with just our pets and I envy you! The rest of us have spouses and children at home, which is uncharted territory. Schools are closed, gyms are closed, churches are closed and in reality, we are trying to live a new daily norm. This morning, I went on the Holy Name School Facebook page for the students’ “hall prayer.”
Through the story of the Mother’s Request in Matthew 20:20-28, we talked about being followers of Christ and serving those around us. With that being said, Holy Name School and Parish have been committed to serving the religious needs of our parish community and those who surround us.
Aside from hall prayer, Holy Name School has been doing some fantastic things communicating with students and families via Facebook and Zoom. Hazel Brewi, the School Administrator, and teachers have been posting numerous activities and resources to assist our families during this time.
Holy Name Church is currently doing the same thing and always trying to collaborate on how to reach out to others. Parishioners have been appreciative of the daily and weekend Mass Father Pat Travers has provided not only through Facebook but on the webpage.
With that said, here are a few ways families can continue religious education in your home:
Set a small prayer area in your house for you and your family. If you have children, involve them as much as possible. They can help set up a prayer altar with cloth, a cross, a Bible, and a small plant. If you have a bell lying around the house, have your children use it during the Eucharistic Prayer when the priest lifts the chalice and the host. Letting your children be involved and asking questions about the Mass is an excellent opportunity for them and you to learn more about the Mass! The following links are here to assist with ideas for children while at home:
For early childhood education Allelu, from Our Sunday Visitor, has really fun online resources for grades PreK 3 to Kinder age.
Did you know that because of the current situation, several publishers are making their materials available online for free?
RCL Benziger https://www.rclbenziger.com/order-mass-act-spiritual-communion
Our Sunday Visitor provides free access to Alive In Christ resources through April https://aliveinchrist.osv.com/
Pflaum and Ignatius Press both offer free resources. If not a customer, please log onto their website for more information.
Who says television and videos are bad? Moderation, moderation is always key. When we are asked to teach our children, it can feel overwhelming. There are many appropriate videos and movies out there to help parents during this time and videos that can also teach us about our faith. For teens, young adults and young at heart, http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/lent/lent-videos.cfm has excellent YouTube videos for anything from social justice to Easter and more. Dynamic Catholic is a lifesaver for First Communion and Confirmation prep as well as everyday reflections. https://dynamiccatholic.com/.
Now that families are home, there is plenty of time to cook or not, depending on who you are. We all have and know friends and family members who are becoming quite the connoisseurs of frozen dinners. The alternative would involve the family in planning meals of the day/week and taking the time to sit together around the table to enjoy, pray, talk, and laugh. Here are a couple Catholic-based websites that families can use to bridge food and faith together. https://catholiccuisine.blogspot.com/
Beginning, middle, or end of the day, we need to continue to strengthen our relationship with God, recharge not just for our children but for ourselves. We definitely need to find the grace to make it through the day and the next. With a good honest answer to yourself, what is the first thing you do when you wake up? Look at social media, news, coffee? Let’s take a step back and look at how we approach the day with the https://us.magnificat.net/free. Divine Mercy is the First Sunday of Easter. If you have never done the prayers, here is a great website to start learning https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/devotions/pray-the-chaplet. I highly recommend checking out YouTube videos for the beautiful melody that follows the prayers if you would rather sing the Divine Mercy.
Another prayer weapon that I hear over and over and I feel very passionate about is praying the rosary. When we need our earthly moms, we reach out to them and ask for their assistance, even if it’s just to listen, so why not ask our Holy Mother to hear our prayers? https://www.marian.org/mary/rosary/howto.php.
The biggest thing I always ask our parents to do is be there for their children. With social distancing on the back of our minds, hug your children, give them pats on the back, show them they are loved and tell them that God loves them. The Church will continue to support and guide families. The rosary and Divine Mercy are the two best weapons I can offer. When nervous or start feeling any doubts, I have the laminated picture of the words, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
What all individuals and families are doing is hard and a test of faith and perseverance. We are isolated from each other and the feelings of confusion, anger, and grief can be overwhelming. No doubt about it, this is a difficult time for our Catholic church and family, but we are in this together and will persevere. Give yourselves credit for what you are doing.
Reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ, and reach out to your parish if you ever need assistance. Start or continue to say your rosary, ask St. Laurence and St. Philip Neri to help you find humor throughout the day. Smiling and laughing helps the yoke become a bit easier and the burden light.