Thursday, March 28, 2013

Praying an ACTS Holy Hour

"Can't any of you stay awake with me for one hour?" Matthew 26:41

Today, Holy Thursday, we commemorate the start of the sacred Triduum- the Last Supper, the washing of the feet of the Apostles, the Institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood, and later the Agony in the Garden.

Christ's comment to the Apostles after they had fallen asleep about staying awake one hour is seen as the origin of the Holy Hour, a perfect amount of time to spend in prayer.

I am able to have Holy Hours with my students occasionally, and while they usually are respectful and not disruptive, I sometimes wonder how much they "get out of it."  Merely being in the presence of Christ is enough, but I want them to develop the ability to have a conversation with their Lord including time to sit in silence and listen.

When I covered the prayer chapter in my religion book, we talked about different ways to pray, including all of the things that we should talk to God about.  I taught them the acronym ACTS, standing for Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.  It is very easy to only ask God for the things that we want and forget about praising him, expressing our sorrow for sin, and thanking him for his blessings.

Fulton Sheen made a promise when he was ordained a priest to make a Holy Hour everyday.  You can read his own words about the promise and how it changed his life here.

This week, as I was preparing my students for their Holy Hour, I decided to try something different.  I gave them a copy of the second printable below and reminded them of what the words mean.  They then taped them in their Fulton Sheen notebooks flap style and I challenged them to journal some thoughts to God.  We talked about how journaling can be one style of prayer that helps us talk to God.
The flap ensured that their prayers could remain private, which enabled them to be more comfortable in journaling during the Holy Hour.
The verses and short explanations helped them remember what they were praying about without needing my help.

Armed with their notebooks, pencils, and directions, we went to the church...and had the best, most attentive, quietest Holy Hour that we have had all year.  The student response was overwhelmingly positive.  I think that kids should do Holy Hours, but also I think we need to teach them and guide them through it so that it can be a fruitful experience with God.

Whether with a Holy Hour or in another way, here are some ACTS prayer printables for you to use:

Link to ACTS words on a single page, no Scripture verses:
Link to ACTS words, two per page, with Scripture verses:

Link to ACTS large words, one per page, with Scripture verses:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Notebook Pop Up Mary Shrine

My students are no stranger to Mary.  She is present in our classroom, school, and church.  She is part of our prayers, and we learned a lot about her as we studied our classroom Saint Maximilian Kolbe.
However, we started studying Mary a little more through the lens of Fulton Sheen's Life.  You can read about the beginning of that journey here.

I have spent quite a lot of time talking with my kids about intercessory prayer- that we can ask the Saints and Mary to pray for us as they are present before the throne of God in heaven.  We ask our friends on earth to pray for us, so why can we not ask our friends in heaven?  Of course, if you want to get into a deeper apologetic discussion, there are many Scripture references, and documents of the Church Fathers, and types in the Bible that I could talk about, but that is not the goal of this post.  (However, if you are curious, here is a quick answer, a video, and an article)  I just want to show you the awesome Marian shrine that we made.

So you can go and "visit" Mary in a church, right?  And ask for her intercession, and light a candle to leave your prayer "burning"... why not give kids the chance to create that environment in a way that they can take it with them anywhere.
We created this pop up Marian shrine complete with a statue of Mary, candles to light, roses to leave, and new prayers to use, all on a two page spread of a notebook.

Ok, steps, lots of steps.  It really wasn't that complicated to make, but pictures helped, so bear with me for the long post to scroll through.

Step 1: Find, print, and color a statue of Mary about 8" high.  You could use any picture of Mary, or appeal to a certain devotion, like to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

This Mary statue was found here.
Step 2: Cut out Mary in a shape that looks something like the one above.  You  need about 2-3 inches on each side of Mary toward the bottom of the paper for this to work.

Step 3: Fold 1 inch tabs on each side toward the middle of the picture like above.  Then, fold Mary in half vertically with the picture on the inside.  Then fold each edge of the paper toward the middle.
When you unfold Mary and lay the picture face down, it should look like this. 
Step 4:  Flip Mary over, and center her over the spine of your notebook.  Hold so that she is level and the folded sides are perpendicular to the pages of the notebook.  Tape down the tabs on either side, which should look something like this:
If you slightly close the notebook, like to prop it open, she pops out even more.  Next, you need to "coach" the statue so that it will fold in on itself when the notebook closes, and not just get squished.
As you slowly close the notebook, use your hand to make sure that it folds in the middle and lays flat in between the notebook pages.  It should pop right back out when the notebook is opened.
Step 5: Color the candles and roses page and cut out. (FYI- don't have the kids cut on the lines around the roses.  Just cut out in rough ovals like below.)
Step 6: Create the instructions and storage envelope for the candles and roses. The envelope is  a "coin" envelope from a box of donated supplies a friend gave me.  Give me donated office supplies, and I promise you they will be put to use.
Here is the link to the printable for the candles and roses:
Step 7: Make a flip book for some favorite Marian Prayers to have handy. Start with two sheets of 8 1/2" x 5 1/2" paper, two colors if you have it.
Fold one in half short end to short end ("bathtub" or "hamburger" style), but leave 1/2-3/4 of an inch between the edges.
Lay the next piece of paper over top, giving the same amount of space between the edges.
Fold it around the back.
And you end up with a four page flip book with evenly spaced flaps.  You can either tape the pieces together or add a couple of staples along the edge.
Step 8: Print and cut out the favorite Marian prayers.  Link to printable here:

The tiny strips go on the outside tabs so that you can find the prayers.
Order doesn't matter so much, except some are wider than others, so make sure to test for fit before gluing down.
There is even a spot for a self composed prayer to Mary.
Step 9: Glue the flip book on the opposite side of the candles envelope.
Step 10: Prop open your Marian Shrine and add candles and roses as you ask Mary to intercede for you!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sheen and Mary

I've written quite a bit about Mary this year, (like here and here and here).

Fulton Sheen loved Mary.  He dedicated every one of his 66 books to her, spoke often of her, and taught others to know her.

Was he making a "mountain out of a mole hill"?  Practicing idolatry? Losing sight of Christ in focusing on His Mother?  No.  He was loving the Woman that Christ loved, learning from her example, and following Christ more closely because of it.

As he said:
"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."

(Coincidentally, as we started taking about Mary, we were in the light section of our Science book, which talks about how every object that we can see either produces its own light or reflects from another sources.  Wove those two lessons together and had a ready-made journal topic!)
Fulton Sheen loved to teach others the prayer/poem "Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue." It is a sweet child's prayer written originally by Mary Dixon Thayer.  I added some of my artwork, and gave my students a copy to put in their Sheen Notebooks.
Click on the image below for the printable.
I also used this opportunity to cover some of the "basics" about Mary that are taught in a single chapter in our religion textbook.  The kids are at the point in the year that anything read to them out of a textbook goes in one ear and out the other, so I just took the info and presented it in a different way.  They all made these mini Mary fact books with info about terms relating to Mary, Mary in the Gospels, the Mysteries of the Rosary, Mary's Feast Days, and Names of Mary.  Click on this image for the printable.
They cut them out- FYI, I recommend only having kids cut out one "set" at a time- otherwise it is really easy to mix them up...which of course could be an entirely different challenge or assessment...but for our purposes I didn't want any lost pieces, so they cut out one at a time...

...and then stapled on one side to make an itty-bitty mini book...
...that easily opens to reveal info.
We then glued all of the mini books on blue paper in out notebooks.

This was also a good time to talk about why the color blue has a connection with Mary.  I just started the discussion with how they thought paint and dye was made hundreds of years ago. They were able to figure out that paint would be dyed with natural materials, and therefore blue must have been hard to make, and if it was hard to make, it would have been expensive.  Then, the students made the inference that you would only use blue paint on things you really valued, and so artists must have wanted to make the Blessed Mother as beautiful as possible.  The connection between blue and Mary has stuck to this day.

After these "fact activities," the kids were ready to talk about devotion to Mary and how she is a powerful intercessor for us.  Check back tomorrow for their favorite part of this project so far!

Monday, March 25, 2013

World Mission Rosary

In 1950, Sheen was named the Director for the Society of the Propagation of the Faith (now called the Pontifical Missions Society) and in 1951 he designed and taught about the World Mission Rosary, asking all to pray not only for themselves, but for the World.
Each decade of the Rosary is a different color, reminding us to pray for the needs of people around the world.
  • Green= the grasslands of Africa
  • Blue= the islands of the Pacific
  • White= Europe, the home of the Holy Father
  • Red= the Missionary zeal of those sent to the Americas
  • Yellow= the sunrise over the East

The Archdiocese of Chicago has a nice handout about how to pray the World Mission Rosary.

I made this sheet for the kids to color and put in their Sheen notebooks.  The text is from the Archbishop Sheen Cause website.
 Click on the image below for a printable.

 We first made a large classroom Rosary using paper strips to make a chain.  One group of kids made the "beads" for Africa, another group for Europe, etc.  Then we connected them all together and added the additional beads.  As we put it together, we didn't pray a Rosary this time, but we reviewed what prayers were said on each bead.

Here is the finished Rosary hanging above our Sheen Corner in our classroom.

Info from Pontifical Mission Societies in the US on the World Mission Rosary.
Text on my handout from here.
Info from the Vatican with an interactive missions Rosary.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Fulton Sheen Timeline

"Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded from service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for Divine Love?" ~Fulton Sheen

The natural summary of a person's life?
A timeline, of course.

So after watching the film about Fulton Sheen's life, I challenged my students to take a stack of post-it notes (one of my favorite educational resources, btw) and create a timeline of FJS's life.  Important items only.  Had to be events, not just facts.  And had to be placed in chronological order (with a little help from me supplying dates they did not know off the top of their heads.)

The result:

I was pretty impressed, considering that I only gave them five minutes.  And I know that you can't read them, but they were very accurate and specific with their events.

As a reward, I told them that I had something to add to our Sheen corner, which has been gradually growing in one spot of our classroom.  So far it has newspaper articles, photos, prayers, student artwork about Sheen, and even a copy of a letter that one kid wrote (her own idea!) to Sheen's niece who lives in New York.  The big pockets have more items to read or view, ranging from articles to a couple of his books to the documentary that we watched as a group.

I pulled out the timeline that I created and drew illustrations for and hung it at the top. (it is that lame looking white strip above everything.)

And they oohed and aahed, and then I showed them the one in my awesome notebook:
 And they flipped out a bit.
 Because then they got their own.
It is impossible to get a close up picture of the whole thing, but the timeline has 16 events in the life of Sheen from his birth to him being declared Venerable last summer.

When printed back to front from the file available below and then cut into strips horizontally, it can be taped into a two sided strip that is in order.  (Chronological order being the challenge for the kids).  We then accordion folded it so that it would neatly fit into our notebooks, but could still be pulled out and seen from both sides.
 You also could copy it back to front and cut it into 8 individual panels and then staple it together like a mini book, or print single sided to make a timeline for a wall like I had above.

However you use it, here is the link for the printable: