Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mary is the moon

"God who made the sun, also made the moon.  The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun.  All its light is reflected from the sun.  The Blessed Mother reflects her Divine Son; without Him, she is nothing.  With Him, she is the Mother of men." 
~Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Click on the image below for this Fulton Sheen Quote Coloring page:
It would make a great journal starter!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Way of Light Story Bag


Alleluia!  Happy Easter!

Now that we have spent so much time focusing on Lent, it is time to remember and live the message of Easter.  One way to do that is to learn the stories from the Gospels about the 40 days Jesus spent on earth after His Resurrection.  That is where the Way of Light comes in.  You can read more about why I have created activities for the fourteen stations of the Way of Light here.

For this activity, I wanted to promote story telling as a learning tool.  We all love and learn through stories.  They help us remember, internalize, and act on important information.  This activity throws fourteen objects into a bag, and each object can then become the vehicle or memory tool for telling one of the stories surrounding the Easter season.

These objects tie in closely with the symbols used in The Way of Light Resurrection Eggs, but are a bit different and they aren't choking hazards if you are working with littles ;)

Here are the Stations of Light and an example of an object to go along with each.  I tried to get objects that were cheap and easy to find (or gave an example of a substitute).  You certainly can use your creative bone to come up with your own symbols for each story!

Station 1. Jesus rises from the dead
Print out and color this Alleluia! coloring page with the traditional Paschal Greeting on it.  (One of my students colored this one- isn't it lovely!) Link for the coloring page is at the bottom of the post.

Station 2. Women find the empty tomb
An empty Easter egg.  Or you could even fill it with Easter candy to show how good it was that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Station 3. The risen Lord appears to Mary Magdalene
A jar of holy water, reminding us of the tears she shed when she thought Jesus was gone as well as the waters of Baptism that allow us to be a part of the resurrection of the dead..

Station 4. The risen Lord appears on the road to Emmaus
A magnifying glass to remind us of the way Jesus showed the disciples things they had never "seen" or understood in the Scriptures about the Messiah.
Station 5. The risen Lord is recognized in the breaking of the bread
You could make this Monstrance Craft, or another project relating the Eucharist to the True Presence of Jesus.

Station 6. The risen Lord appears to the disciples in Jerusalem
Throw your favorite Saint books into the bag, especially any that include stories of the twelve Apostles or early disciples.

Station 7. The risen Lord gives the disciples the power to forgive
A strip of 2" wide purple makes a great priestly stole, reminding us of the Sacrament of Confession.

Station 8. The risen Lord strengthens the faith of Thomas
Got an extra glove or stray flip flop? Use those to remind them of the hands and feet of Jesus that St. Thomas wanted to see and touch after His Resurrection.

Station 9. The risen Lord meets the disciples on the shore of Lake Tiberius
Pipe cleaner Jesus fish!  Go here for more on its symbolism.

Station 10. The risen Lord confers primacy on Peter
You need a rock for this one.  Easy and free.

Station 11. The risen Lord sends the disciples into the whole world
I happen to have this awesome wooden globe from a project a few years ago-
...and it even opens up to reveal little people from around the world.  Perfect to explain how Jesus sent the Apostles to tell everyone everywhere the Good News.  I got it through Oriental Trading, but I don't think that it is available anymore.
If you can't find something like that, you could make a cheap and easy "globe" using a small green ball.
Take a blue Sharpie and create some oceans, leaving green behind as the land, and whhaallaa, you've got the whole world in your hand.

Station 12. The risen Lord ascends into heaven
I love this one.  Jesus ascends to heaven on a cloud, right?  So buy a 99cent white bath-net-sponge-thing, cut the cord off, and you have a cloud.

Station 13. Waiting with Mary in the Upper Room
Best way to wait with Mary?  The Rosary, of course.

Station 14. The risen Lord sends the Holy Spirit
And for the coming of the Holy Spirit, I threw in a battery operated candle.

Include a Way of Light mini book with each station, symbol, and Scripture listed in order to help tell the story. (Link at the bottom of post)

Throw it all in a tote bag- I used five minutes and some puff paint to label the blank side of a freebie tote bag.
Now as you read or tell the stories about the Easter season, associate each one with an object in the bag.  As you go, have the kids pull out the objects and relate each with the stories they know.  Eventually, you can use the objects to have the kids tell the story in their own words.

Here you go!  A great way to promote active story telling and memorization of the stories surrounding the season of Easter.

Click here for the Paschal Greeting coloring page:

You can find my other Way of Light Activities by clicking on these images:

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Things For This Good Friday

Good Music:
All that I am is dry bones
Without you Lord, a desert soul
I am broken but running toward You God
You make me whole
You make me whole

Good Art:
My friend Kayla has started a graphic design business, and I love her stuff.  
She is offering a free 8x10 art print of the above design to a lucky winner
who shares this post on facebook.  It could be you!  Go share :)

Good Stories:

This week, I focused a lot of our classroom discussion around the events of Holy Week and the coming Easter season.  No surprise then that one of the kids then asked this question-

"Miss B, so when we die, is it just our souls in heaven, or will our bodies be there too?"

I was proud of the question relating our eternal home to the death and resurrection of Christ, and I was prepared to share an articulate and theologically profound (yet simple and easy to understand) response about personal judgement, final judgement, and the resurrection of the dead.

I decided, though, to use an example to explain.  So I said-

"That is a great question!  Ok, pretend that I die tomorrow..." I was just planning on jumping into the explanation of what would happen to my soul and my body, but the whole room erupted into a chorus of sad "Awwww!" moans.

Except one student said, "YEEEESSUUH! NO SCHOOL!!!"

The rest of the students gasped collectively and I think my jaw hit my collarbone. 

They were appalled that this student was more excited about possibly having no school then my potential death.

Besides, another student was quick to point out, "Calm down.  We would just have a sub anyways."

So, I see where I rank, but I was able to get their attention back and talk about our heavenly souls being united with our glorified bodies.  You win some, you lose some.

Good Words:

"To have no cross makes one suspect of lacking the indelible brand of being one of His own."
~Venerable Fulton J. Sheen in Life of Christ

Good Pope:

Good Scripture:

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever." ~Psalm 23:6

Good Friday:

Praying a good Triduum to you all!  See you back here on Easter!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Passover and The Passion- A Youth Bible Study

The Passover and The Passion
A Youth Bible Study

Happy Holy Week!

This week at school, we are diving into Holy Week, exploring the depths and meaning of each day as we prepare to celebrate Easter Sunday.

One thing that we have done was created these Resurrection Eggs as a class, learned the story behind each symbol, and read the relating scripture.  Then, each 5th grader was paired with a 2nd grader, and they told them the story of the Triduum in their own words using the objects as story telling guides.  I always am amazed at how well the kids can relate their knowledge to their younger peers.  I also love when I catch them using their "teacher voice" while answering a question or telling the other student something. :)

Another project that we are working on is preparing us for watching this movie on Holy Thursday:
Check out The Prince of Egypt: Dreamworks Studios' first animated film, gorgeous music, creative story design, pretty accurate Biblical portrayal.  It's of my favorites :)

To get ready to watch the movie, we did an in class Bible Study of the story of the Passover...and then looked at how Christ's Passion fulfills the Passover.

While reading Exodus 11-12 and discussing Moses, the plagues, the Passover, and God's plans for His people,  one of my students said "Wow, I really like this Bible thing.  We should do this more often."

Point taken.  Very often we TELL kids the story, but it is important to actually get them INTO the story.  It can be done with kids of all ages- there are lots of great age appropriate Bibles out there.

As we began our discussion, I first asked the kids what they already knew about the Passover.  This is what they brainstormed:
  • The Israelites (God’s chosen people)
  • Slaves in Egypt- God said let my people go
  • The first born son of the Egyptians died
  • Story of Moses
  • Lamb sacrificed- blood on the door
  • Angel of death
  • 10 Plagues

We then came up with a list of questions that the kids wanted to find out:
(Many of these we answered as we read the story...and some of them are going to take some further research.  I bet you can pick those questions out of our list.)

  • What was the angel of death?  Was it a certain angel?  Do we know its name?
  • What if a family didn’t have a first born?  Did it kill girls too?  What about babies in the womb?
  • Why a lamb?  Any random lamb?  What did they do with the lamb?  Living lamb or dead?  Could it be an older sheep instead?
  • How did the people know what to do?
  • What did they do with the blood?  Why were they passed over? 
  • Did the blood go on both the top and the sides of the door?
  • Did the plague affect the adults too?
  • Weren’t the people slaves?  Where did they get the lambs then?
  • Were the plagues one day after another or spread out?
We then took notes on the key facts about the Passover as we read the story in Scripture.  You could use one of the graphic organizers below as a guide.  

The next day, we reviewed the Passover, and then jumped into Holy Week.  We read Matthew 26-27 this time, looking for specific connections to the Passover that was being celebrated.  Look at what we found:

One of the kids said that they should have plugged their ears because Their.Minds.Were.Blown.

I love it.  It is awesome to find connections between the Old and New Testaments, and this is a perfect time of year to show students how Jesus is the Paschal Lamb.

I was able to do this with my 5th graders, but I think that it easy could be used to guide a discussion in a middle school classroom, or even a youth group.

Click here for a blank graphic organizer to fill in:

Click here for a version of the study with the Passover side filled in and a blank left column for the Passion connections:

 Click here for the filled in version to use as a guide:

Then watch the movie and see the connections come to life!

Friday, April 11, 2014

7QT- Seven Things You Can Stop Saying to Your Single Friends

As if that title isn't long enough, the more accurate heading of this post would be-
A Public Service Announcement: Here Are Seven Phrases You Should Probably Think Twice About Saying Out Loud to Your Single Female Christian Friends Who Prayerfully Desire to Be Married.
But that seemed a bit much.

Found this Mister.  Not the one I was looking for.

I am almost 29.  I am single.  This tends to bring some interesting conversations into my spectrum.  Sometimes people say things that I know that they can't really mean, or words that they don't realize sound the way they do to single ears.  I am not upset, but think that maybe some people have been married too long to remember what it is like to be where we are at.  So for my seven quick takes this week, I thought I would put together the top seven things that we single people wish we didn't have to hear again.  I admit, I am a bit reluctant to pull this out of the draft folder because I don't want anyone to think this is written in anger (it's not) or about a specific person (most definitely not).  Maybe it will just start some conversations. 

Let's continue the discussion in the comment box.  Married friends, feel free to chime in with the things people like me need to forget from our vocabulary.  And single ladies, I'd love to hear the best quote meant to "encourage" you in your singleness! 

So here are my favorite lines, all real, all on the subject of my singleness:

"Don't worry, God has a plan for you."
Thank you very much.  I agree.  But I don't need it used as a platitude when I am being vulnerable enough to share my thoughts about the future.  Give me good advice, share your story, speak real truth, remind me to pray.  But don't give me lines from a greeting card.

"You are single?  Good for you.  Stay that way."
I am sorry that you are that bitter about the institution of marriage, but don't assume I feel the same.

 "It must be nice to have so much free time with no husband and kids to take care of."
(The negative runner up to this one is: "She can take care of it.  It's easier because she is single.")
Yes, being single usually gives us more radical availability than a woman who is married with kids.  However, remember that flexibility and free time are not the same thing.  Many of us single girls are trying to fill our time with good work and service, not soap operas and bonbons.  Don't look at our work and say, "Gosh, this girl needs to get a husband."

 "I just can't believe you're not married.  You are so awesome and wonderful and sweet and pretty!  
Why aren't you married?"
Good question.  Your compliment is appreciated and kind, but how am I suppose to answer this?  Maybe- "Thanks, I think I am awesome too, but apparently men don't agree."  There is no good way to respond.  We thank you for your nice words, but maybe think about how uncomfortable the conversation might be after you say them.

"You really need to try online dating/bar hop more often/lower your expectations/
meet my husband's-second-cousin's-neighbor's-single-son."
Know me well?  Recommend place that I could be socializing to meet new people.
Know me really well?  Set me up with a good man that has more qualifications for a date than "also single."
Know me really really well?  Call me out on the unrealistic things I believe or do relating to dating and marriage. Challenge me to be the woman I am suppose to be while waiting to meet the man God has in store for me.
Don't know me?  Maybe don't give me advice.

(A quick update- the same day that I posted this, a good friend who is trying out online dating through a Christian site was propositioned by a polygamist.  Yes, propositioned by a polygamist.  Online dating does not fix all woes.)

 "Sure you're not suppose to be a nun?"
This is for all the Catholic ladies out there.

For my Protestant sisters it might be something more like,  
"Might you be called to serve as a permanent  missionary at an orphanage in Uganda?"

The Vocation to Religious Life or other service is beautiful, and holy, and an incredible sacrifice.  I respect all who have given their lives over to Christ for the service of the Church.  However, remember we all have prayed and discerned and looked for the will of God.  You can invite me to consider Religious Life, you can encourage me to discern, but don't assume that being a Nun is some second-best life that I accept after not finding a man.  There is a lot more to it than that.

"Wow.  It must be awesome to have such a fulfilling career
/successful business/sleep through the night/time to travel/incredible hobby..."
Don't think we wouldn't trade it all.  In the end, the jobs, the hobbies, the travel, the recognition... they all mean nothing.  What will be lasting are the children created by a couple and God, the souls led to heaven within a family, the saints made by marriages.

Being single is hard.  Those of us that are honest know that marriage is harder.  But marriage is a work for sanctity, a pursuit of Christ that is done hand in hand with someone else.  The two become one with a single desire for heaven.  There is a great need for holy marriages in the world because the formation of the future takes place in the home.

So while I try to wait in a dignified and worthy manner, these common "single girl" comments and questions are hard to hear.  We single ladies are not all looking for Disney princes and Pinterest worthy weddings.  We are willing to make sacrifices and to model Christ & His Church within our vocations, just like you.  Hopefully, we can all work together for the Kingdom, even when as women (me included!), our words sometimes get in the way of our intentions.

For more Seven Quick Takes, probably all on a totally different topic, go visit Jen at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Way of Light Resurrection Eggs

You probably have seen the commercial versions of Resurrection Eggs and the ideas about how to make them yourself, and even ways to make Stations of the Cross Eggs.  

I have posted before about my version of Resurrection Eggs.  You can click here for those ideas:

Resurrection Eggs (and of course, Station of the Cross Eggs) tend to focus on the events of Holy Week- Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday, etc. and then end with the Resurrection.

After deciding to create some lessons focusing on Way of Light,(you can see my posts so far here and here), I also wanted to create a hands on craft to help tell the story of the Way of Light. 

I thought that a new version of Resurrection Eggs that focused on the events after the first Easter morning would be a neat way to continue the same idea.  Small objects, each rich in symbolism but easy to understand, tied in with verses from the Bible, all stored in one spot.

Cue The Way of Light Resurrection Eggs:

I actually decided to not put all of the objects inside plastic Easter eggs- I wanted to be able to see all of them at once. You could still put them in eggs for storage purposed if you like.
First, I numbered the inside of the egg carton with a sharpie.  There are 14 Stations of Light, so I found a way to incorporate some of them together, so 1&2 are in the same spot as well as 13&14.
The Stations of Light are:
1. Jesus rise from the dead
2. Women find the empty tomb
3. The risen Lord appears to Mary Magdalene
4. The risen Lord appears on the road to Emmaus
5. The risen Lord is recognized in the breaking of the bread
6. The risen Lord appears to the disciples in Jerusalem
7. The risen Lord gives the disciples the power to forgive
8. The risen Lord strengthens the faith of Thomas
9. The risen Lord meets the disciples on the shore of Lake Tiberius
10. The risen Lord confers primacy on Peter
11. The risen Lord sends the disciples into the whole world
12. The risen Lord ascends into heaven
13. Waiting with Mary in the Upper Room
14. The risen Lord sends the Holy Spirit

Here are the objects that I used to symbolize each Station.  (A printable list is at the end of the post)

Station 1 & 2- An empty Easter egg to symbolize the empty tomb
 Station 3- A jar of holy water, symbolizing the tears Mary Magdalene cried
Station 4- A mini magnifying glass, symbolizing the way Jesus revealed the true meaning of the Scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus
Station 5- A paper "host" that opens up to reveal Jesus inside, just like the disciples knew it was Jesus with them through the breaking of the bread.  You can make this easily by folding a piece of heavy white paper, cutting a circle that has one side on the fold, and putting a sticker of Jesus inside.

Station 6- A Saint bracelet, symbolizing the disciples in Jerusalem that saw Jesus.  You could also use a collection of Saint medals, stickers, etc.
 Station 7- A mini purple stole (just a strip of purple felt) symbolizing the authority to forgive sins int he Sacrament of Penance
Station 8- Hands or feet of some kind, symbolizing that Thomas wanted to see Jesus' hands, feet, and side
Station 9- A Jesus fish twisted from pipe cleaners, symbolizing the disciples meeting Jesus on the shore of the Tiberius
 Station 10- A rock, symbolizing Jesus giving primacy to Peter
Station 11- A large cat's eye marble, which looks kind of like the world from space, symbolizing the disciples being sent out into the world
Station 12- A cotton ball, symbolizing Jesus being taken up by a cloud into heaven
Station 13-  A finger rosary, symbolizing waiting with Mary

Station 14- A candle, symbolizing the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  I used a battery operated tea light and wrote "Come Holy Spirit" around the outside.

There you have it! Fourteen objects telling the story of the fifty days after Easter.
 Place them all in an egg carton, and you have a student-centered teaching tool.

Click here for the printable egg carton label:
And click here for the list of Stations, objects, and Scripture verses:
You can use this as a list to guide your discussions, could cut them in strips and roll them into eggs with the objects, etc.