St. Maria Goretti: Virtue in Children

Today in the liturgical year we celebrate the life of a young saint who lived in Italy during the turn of the 20th century. This was a hard-working little girl from a poor farming family, whose father died when she was nine, requiring her family to move in with another family. When she was 11, one of the sons of the family they lived with, Alessandro, made sexual advances toward her. When she refused him, he stabbed her 14 times. As she was dying in the hospital she forgave him. He was imprisoned for 27 years, during which time he had a conversion of heart. When he was released, he begged Maria’s mother’s forgiveness — which she granted — and he became a lay brother in a monastery later in life.

Yes, it’s a pretty heavy story, to say the least. But it’s a story with so much grace and inspiration. Every year when her memorial comes around, I cannot help but consider the virtue that had been built up in this little girl over her childhood. Like so many saint stories, we see that there is no such thing as virtue that suddenly appears in a given moment. Grace does for sure! But the virtue in the moment is the result of a life of virtuous habits and living faith. The moment tests that virtue, tests that faith, and we see the real character of the person emerge. Clearly this was a girl who was living her life on earth with her heavenly home in mind every day.

We can read stories like this about child saints who lived 100 years ago during a time and place where everyone took for granted the truth of the Church and faith in God, and we can easily think: Such virtue is not possible for my children today. As I think about young Maria, I can’t help but consider my children’s yelling and hitting each other yesterday over rather minor offenses. I think about their disobedience or talking back to me, and sometimes as parents we can get discouraged. Will they ever rise above these reactions and bad behaviors? Continue reading “St. Maria Goretti: Virtue in Children”

Just Around the Corner

We’ve all heard the expression: “Spring is just around the corner.” Well, today is officially the first day of Spring, and I’m staring out my window at beautiful………snow……..several inches of it. The blossoms and birds will be a little while longer. It’s Winter’s ironic joke and last hurrah.

Looking at the tree limbs and deck covered in piles of white, one would never think of Easter being a week and a half away. It’s hard to imagine that in a very short time we will have sunny 60-70 degree weather. Though the view from my window tempts me to think that Winter will be here for awhile, a glance at my calendar tells me otherwise.

I find this phenomenon — this contrast between the weather now and the weather soon coming — to offer a particularly timely meditation for the transition from Lent to Easter in our lives as Christ-followers, especially since we are almost to Holy Week on the liturgical calendar. Continue reading “Just Around the Corner”

Need a kid-paced Stations of the Cross routine?

I love the tradition of praying the Stations of the Cross on Fridays during Lent, and I love doing it in our home around our prayer table. Sometimes it’s just our family, and other times it’s us and another family or two after sharing a simple soup super. But those of us with lots of young kids can find instituting the practice of praying the Stations (and other prayers) a bit daunting. It’s hard for them to sit still for that long when they are at young ages. They just don’t have the attention span and patience (especially in the evening) for the full blown version.

We have all littles (6 and under) right now, and I really desire for them to embrace this beautiful prayer practice and have it grow with them. So, a couple of years ago I created a kid-paced routine for praying the Stations — pieced together from various resources and practices I had observed other families doing. I use the children’s book The Way of the Cross as the guiding resource, which was a gift from godparents a few years back. It is so beautiful!

My kids love this routine. It can be as short as 10 minutes, which is often just the right amount of time when kids are young and learning to adopt this prayer practice. When you start small, it is easy to build on a practice with time and let it grow with your family. We want our children to love prayer — not be overwhelmed by it. After all, loving should be the goal of all of our prayers anyway.

Our family and friends have really enjoyed this routine, and I’m sharing it with you — just fill out the form below and you will get a PDF copy to use in your home. God bless your family’s Lenten journey!

 

Copyright 2018 Jessica Ptomey