Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Prepping for the Epiphany

This year we decided to have an Epiphany party for the group instead of having a Christmas party during Advent.  I thought it would be a good opportunity to teach the girls what the Epiphany was and also keep the celebrating during Christmas, not Advent.

Today I got together with one of the other moms, and sewed all of our stars for the party.  Wow, 12 stars didn't sound like much, but perhaps when we added the 5 kids running around, it took us a little longer than we thought. 

Hopefully this will be a fun activity for them and we won't wind up with rice all over the social hall.  The girls have so much fun just throwing the prayer ball back and forth that we thought making "shooting" stars for them to throw around would be fun.

Got to finish some of the decorations and the little matchboxes for the Epiphany chalk.  We'll be all set for our big party on Monday!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Unselfishness - Complete Lesson Plan

What a perfect virtue for the season.  I think all the moms appreciated having a review of what it means to be unselfish or giving.  It can be easy for kids to get caught up with the "I wants" at Christmas time. 

Shannon lead the group this month and she provided me with all of her notes.  Wow, I wish I could be so organized when I lead meetings!!  I need to take some lessons from her.  Everything is included for the meeting. 

1.        Gather on blanket.  Have unselfish written on board.
a.        What does it mean?
                                                               i.      Thinking only about yourself, not caring or thinking about others
                                                              ii.      Stingy, not generous
                                                            iii.      Egotistical – thinking you’re the best
b.       What are some examples?
c.        What is the opposite of Unselfish?
d.       What are some examples of selfish

2.       Talk about St. Teresa of the Andes (#2)
a.       Map world, maps of Chile/Andes (Why do you think she was called St. Teresa of the Andes?)  Pass out Passport pages.
b.      She was born in Chile, South America
c.      She read St. Therese’s Autobiography, The Story of a Soul – she was so impressed and excited about it, she wanted to become a nun
d.      She used to write letters talking about her life following Christ
e.      She gave up everything to give her life to God – unselfish
f.      She overcame a self-centered personality to become a person who put others before herself

3.       Split up: moms take girls to play telephone (while other mom’s hide boxes).  Telephone sentences:
a.        “I am unselfish when I think of others first.”
b.        “Praying to God will help me be unselfish.”
c.        “St. Teresa of the Andes was born in Chile, South America.”

4.       Sorting find the boxes activity: selfish/unselfish statements cut into strips and each one put into small boxes.  Hide boxes for girls to find –like Easter egg hunt.  Once a team finds a box, they open it, read the statement, decide if it is selfish or unselfish, tape it to correct piece of construction paper (two pieces of construction paper on table labeled “Selfish” and “Unselfish”)  See attached statements.
a.        Find boxes and tape onto correct paper
b.       Work in partners (older girl with younger girl)
c.        Ask girls how they can practice being unselfish while playing this game (letting others find boxes and giving hints to other teams)

5.       Talk about Christmas – a time to be unselfish, keep Jesus first, not focus on just the presents

6.       Unlucky Jim Story (#6)  See attached story
a.        Have moms leave the room
b.       Read story to girls
c.        Have girls draw a picture about the story Unlucky Jim
d.       The girls will share story with mom using the picture they drew

7.       Write a letter to someone (#4) See attached instructions
a.        Have you ever gotten mail in your mailbox?  How does it feel? 
b.       Write a letter, draw a picture, tell someone about St. Teresa or Little Flowers or just that you are thinking about them
c.        Moms can help daughters organize thoughts

8.       On your way home (#5)
a.        Talk with your mom about some ways she has to be unselfish as a mom/grandma and some ways that you have to be unselfish as a kid.  Is being unselfish easy?

Showing Zeal to the World

I'm a little slow with updating this blog.  I had better get caught up before the New Year begins.

For our second meeting in November, we went to the assisted living community.  We are so blessed that one of our religious education teachers volunteers there.  She not only gets us put on the schedule to visit there, she arranges the crafts for us as well.

This month, we did two crafts with the residents.  The first one was a cute little jar with a picture of St. Mary Star of the Sea.  Charlene gave a little talk on why Mary was given such a name and then passed out the jars along with the rest of the supplies.  The girls got to fill the jars with beautiful shells and then mod podge pretty pictures of St. Mary the Cross.  Simple enough for them all to complete on their own.

The second craft was making a paper bag puppet of St. Mary MacKillop.  I shared a little about her with the residents and a refresher for the girls. 

It is so wonderful watching the girls and residents interact.  We had one of the little sisters just steal the show.  She is from Germany and has a sweet little accent.  She was going around to all the residents, absolutely not shy at all and showing great zeal.  She has all the residents smiling which was so great to see.

Unfortunately I have no pictures of their wonderful projects. Something seems to happen once we get home from our meetings.  The girls' projects go into their rooms only to reappear months later.  Perhaps one day  I'll be able to post some pics.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Zeal - Wreath IV

I love, love, love that I got to do the lesson on zeal this evening.  Some days, I truly just feel like I am so filled with zeal that I could explode!!!  Little Flowers is a great outlet for me to spread that zeal.

Our group has grown so much that I just didn't think it worked well around the tables.  I came in early and put the moms' chairs in a half circle and then carpet squares on the floor for the girls.  I think it actually worked much better.  The girls were excited to be sitting with their friends and the moms were able to participate if they chose.

I started off with defining what zeal was.  It is such an easy one to explain.  It's loving God so much that it gives you energy.  An enthusiasm and energy for God and all that He wants.  I found that the leaders' manual was really helpful for planning this meeting.  We talked about having a false zeal and St. Paul before his conversion and also about the first Christians and the zeal they must have had to be able to spread the word without phones, computers, televisions, or newspapers.  All of the info came from the leaders' manual.

We then completed activity #5.  I pulled over a chalkboard and talked about some of the fads.  This was good because even some of the shyest girls felt comfortable enough to share a fad.  I then asked the girls to share what we could do to keep our faith from becoming a fad.

Then we did a little role playing.  If you haven't had a chance to check out The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, definitely check it out.  They have a wonderful Virtues in Practice program.  They have it broken down into different grade levels.  The following comes from their lessons:

Virtue Activity

We are going to sort of role play or answer questions  by responding with some Godly zeal.  Think about how you can be zealous in your relationship with God by acting with intense love for Him. 

  1. The music teacher at school is helping you learn a new hymn to be sung at Mass, and some sections of it are difficult – and you’re tired.
  2. You’ve been asked to help contribute your time to help out with a fundraiser for a parish mission trip to Africa.  You don’t know that much about the purpose of the mission, or where it’s actually going, but you do know someone in your parish who is from that area 
  3. You play sports for a city team.  Some of your teammates are talking about religion and whether they should become Christians. 
  4. You are at the roller skating rink and some girl notices the crucifix you are wearing on your necklace.  She asks you about it.
  5. After a weekday Mass during the summer, one of your friends remarks that she skipped Mass last weekend because she wanted to sleep in – and she knew she would be coming to Mass during the week anyway. 
  6. An opportunity comes up over summer vacation to help out with Vacation Bible School, but you’d much rather have the time free to hang out with friends.
Some of these were harder than others for the girls to come up with, but we had fun trying.

We were able to work on Activity #4 as well.  I read the memory verse out of the bible and then read Ephesians 6:10.  I also passed out a wonderful handout from Practical Pages.  Head over there for a great drawing of girl dressed in the Armor of God. 

I handed out an examination of conscience for them to use nightly to help them with Activity #8.  The leader's manual gave a great suggestion from Catholic Parents.  

It was then time to switch speeds.  We have a mounted big screen television in our social hall that we have never gotten to use, so I showed a 5 minute video on our saint of the month, St. Mary of the Cross MacKillop.   This was especially good for our littlest of Little Flowers.  We talked a little bit more about her after the video.  The girls also got the next couple pages for their passports.
 Before our craft, I showed them a map to point out Australia.  I passed out a handout with some fun facts about Australia.  Just one warning.  I edited the list before I handed it out as it listed the first gay and lesbian radio station in Australia.  Totally not necessary for our lesson.  Our craft came from here.  I am sure that it could easily be done without buying the file but for $1.50, it was worth it to me to get it done.  They were quick crafts.  The perfect amount of time for what we had left.  I just needed to have a few sheets of yellow tissue paper and I printed the yellow wattles out on card stock.  

Lastly, I handed out hearts to all the girls.  On one side, I put a quote from St. Catherine of Sienna, "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire!".  On the other side, I had the Sacred Heart of Jesus with a banner saying "Set the World Ablaze!".  I encouraged the girls to live their lives the way God would want them to with lots of zeal!!  

Wow, how did I fit that all in within 1 1/2 hours?  Isn't it great when it all fits just perfectly?  We will be having an outing in a couple of weeks.  We are going to go rollerskating!!  I would say that will definitely be a day filled with zeal!!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Endurance, Part II

This evening, we had a chance to practice our physical, mental and spiritual endurance.  Before we began, Jessica shared a little about St. Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes.  Then we took a walk around the parking lot praying the rosary.  I think Jessica certainly had to show some physical endurance as she attempted to lead the rosary walking backwards.  

Afterwards, we let the girls run around for a bit and then headed back inside to do some physical endurance.  Jessica had the girls do some physical activities such as sit ups and bracing themselves against the wall and holding themselves up.  They were having a good time trying the activities and even some of the moms joined in.  

After getting all riled up and excited, we had to practice some mental and spiritual endurance as we spent two minutes meditating and looking at a picture of Mary.  It was hard to stay focused after getting all excited.  

It was a good meeting to be able to put into practice some of what we learned at our next meeting.  Also helped us to be able to complete another one of the activities in the book.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Endurance - Wreath IV

We are not going in order with the book this year.  We were trying to match things up with what is going on with our year.  It just made sense to move things around.  Hopefully it won't confuse anyone too much.

Last Monday began our first official meeting for the new year.  It felt great being back and I could tell the girls were happy to be there.  I handed out their passports for the year and gave them the hand-outs for Endurance and the United States.

Jessica is in charge of the meetings for the month and she sent me all of her notes!!  I am going to go ahead and just post them as is.

Before I post them, I'll post the craft.  We made God's Eyes.  Jessica and her daughter had the popsicle sticks already glued together.  The girls got to pick out their yarn.  As she explained it, since St. Rose - Philippine Duchesne loved the Indians, this was a perfect craft.  God looks with love on people everywhere.


  • Think of sport events (triathlon or marathon) Also it's a virtue. Difference between perseverance and endurance is that endurance usually attached to different or unpleasant situations.

  • EVERY martyr and lots of saints would list endurance as a virtue they possessed. went through lots for Christ.
  • We, however, are not always so committed. We are often quick to abandon God's will when it becomes too hard too uncomfortable. We may be convinced of our need to be more generous to a neighbor, but if they respond to our kindness with grumpiness, we storm off, thinking "that's what I get for being nice!"

  • Too often we lack endurance because it is just too hard to always be nice, always follow Jesus, but that is what we are called to do. He reminds us "if anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself, pick up his cross and follow me"

  • It comes from Fortitude, Helps us face really tough stuff. Helps us stand in the face of danger without attacking it or seeking to alter or change it. We are called to different things that we cannot change and endurance is what we rely on and what God gives us.

  • In truth, we may never be asked to endure anything. For many of us, our lives are ones of relative comfort and ease. We do not know hunger or cold or danger. In recent times, the phrase "first world problems" has been created. This is a rather casual response to complaints from those who have "nothing to wear" or "nothing to eat" when in truth the closets and cupboards are full - they just don't want what they have.

  • So many times now we feel we are entitled to (have a right to) so much and doing without is something we "endure". Too often we may encounter people (or worse yet, BE the people) who feel they are enduring the lack of a phone, new car, trip to Disney, etc.  Our family situation, income, or something else may be preventing us from having “what everyone else has" and we are enduring such difficulty as a result. This is not the case. Endurance is the virtue for danger, pain or the threat of death- not the inability to go out to dinner when we want.

  • (That being said - People have to work hard if they want things in life. Can't just think you are entitled to everything in life.)

  • Some of us ARE being asked to endure. There are those of us who endure real pain and suffering through an illness or disease that affects us or a family member close to us. Or a recent natural disaster. Let us keep our minds focused on what these virtues really mean and help others know as well.

  • Many had to endure it all. Paul challenges Timothy "You have followed my teaching, my way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love and endurance."Paul knows suffering, for he endured it all!" He quiets his critics with the list of all he's endured, from beatings, to floggings, to imprisonment.  This is of great help to us, for while we hope we are never asked to endure a beating, we know from our verse there is “a time of trial which is coming.

  1. Helen Keller quote- "With endurance and determination we can help to better the lives of those around us"

·         Saint - St. Rose - Philippine Duchesne

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (Feast day - November 18) Born in Grenoble, France, in 1769.
Rose joined the Society of the Sacred Heart as a sister.

In 1818, when she was forty-nine years old, Rose was sent to the United States.

She founded a boarding school for daughters of pioneers near St. Louis and opened the first free school west of the Missouri.

71-she began a school for Indians, who soon came to call her "the woman who is always praying". 

Her biographers have also stressed her courage in frontier conditions, her single-mindedness in pursuing her dream of serving Native Americans, and her self-acceptance.

She died in 1852. This holy servant of God was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

We worked on/will work on the following activities:
#3  Passports
#6 We will be trying a form of endurance spiritually and physically next time we meet. (Me- look up patron saint of athletes)
#9 Create list together of individuals or situations that illustrate endurance. We all make list and write it down so we can turn to this during moments of discouragement and inspire us with new endurance.

(Ideas from lesson pulled from Wreath IV Leader's Guide.)