Back-to-School Prayers to Start the School Year Right

 

If you’re like most of our St. Charles Borromeo parents, you spent the last few weeks of summer vacation getting everything ready for another successful school year. From helping with homework to volunteering at school, we know the everyday demands of parenting. Another important component of preparing your children to return to campus is prayer. 

Easing Your Child’s Fears

From a child’s point of view, starting a new school year can be a source of anxiety, fear, and lack of self-confidence. Students can struggle with bullying, discrimination, and not fitting in. In addition to these social issues, children overhear what’s happening in the world, regardless of how you may try to shield them. Children today are struggling to maintain balance between these issues and being academically successful. Prayer can play an important role in helping assuage a child’s concerns. They can place their fears in the hands of Our Lord and know that He will hear and answer those prayers. 

Phillippians 4:6-7 teaches us: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” 

As Catholics, we are reminded of the power of prayer daily. Instilling faith in prayer is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give their child. Learning how to pray isn’t difficult; neither is teaching your children to open their hearts to Jesus Christ.

Praying for a Good School Year

The prayers don’t have to be lengthy and you can encourage your children to speak to Him from their hearts. You can guide them by praying the Lord’s Prayer together first, or using one specifically written for the start of a new school year. Here’s an example:

“Heavenly Father, I pray that I will be safe going back to school. I ask you to watch over me and my family and friends. Help me to learn from my teachers. Help me to do my best in all my subjects. Please help me to be a good friend and to be kind to everyone I meet. Thank you for the blessings in my life. Amen”

For Parents and Caregivers

“Lord, I am worried about my children returning to school. The world is not in a good place right now. I ask that you wrap them in your arms and protect them from any dangers that may come their way. I also pray that they learn to be compassionate and kind and become good citizens of the world. Help them to learn their academic lessons and to utilize the gifts you bestowed upon them. In Jesus’ name. Amen”

Take time to pray and encourage your children to pray. Make praying together an important part of your family routine now and you will find the time to continue throughout the year. Our Orlando Catholic school, located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, encourages parents to provide children with activities to help stimulate them over the summer. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Teaching Your Child How To Serve Others Biblically

It’s important to teach children how to serve others so they can follow the example that Jesus set for us in the Bible. Learning how to serve people while young creates a foundation for serving selflessly throughout life. As parents, the best way to teach your child to serve is to lead by example. Learn ways to teach your child how to serve others biblically.

Blessing Bags

Creating blessing bags will require some time and dedication. Gather essential personal items like toothpaste, soap, and socks. With your child, place these items into a reusable or Ziploc bag, and ask your child to write a prayer or word of encouragement to place in each bag. You can drop these bags off at a local shelter. This activity will open your child’s eyes to the blessings they are given every day. It can also teach children about constantly looking for opportunities to serve others.. 

Thank You Cards and Letters 

Creating thank you cards for the people who influence your child’s life is a great way to serve. Have your child pick some members of their community who help them or serve them, then ask your child to write a thank you card for those people. Jesus washed the feet of His followers. By setting this example, He showed us how to serve out of a heart of compassion and love. You can also write letters to those in the military or to those in the hospital. Jesus says that we must comfort those that go through trials, and writing letters is a real-world application of that. 

Picking up Litter 

Doing this activity with your kids teaches them to respect the earth and their surroundings. Start by finding an area that needs some attention, like a park or a beach. Then, with your child, gather plastic bags and gloves so that you can be safe while collecting litter. Along with helping keep the environment clean, it reminds your child that we’re here to be good stewards of God’s creation.

Food or Clothing Drive

Starting a food drive with your child can teach them to serve those who are less fortunate. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” This is a lesson to teach our children in order for them to grow in their faith and be stewards of what God has given them. Donating their clothes is an application of how Jesus calls us to live in the Bible. Since we have and don’t need, we are able to give. This is the blessing of abundance that we can teach our children.

Serving others is a fundamental part of being a follower of Christ. That’s why our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando encourages children to serve others just as they are taught to in the Bible. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

How To Encourage Your Child To Be Active At Home

Many children spend the majority of their days looking at a screen. Granted, a lot of this interaction between technology and children is for educational purposes. As summer approaches, it’s a good time to break up your child’s time on the screen and get them up and moving. Learn about ways you can encourage your child to be active without using technology. 

 

Providing Alternative Activities

Start by taking it old school, teaching your child games that you used to play as a child. This will help them to feel connected to you and allow them to learn about games that are new to them. Some activities to consider are building Lego forts, teaching your child a new skill, and playing board games like Monopoly or Scrabble! These may be old-school activities, but they allow your child to interact with the whole family and learn problem-solving skills. 

 

Starting a Technology Fast

A part of our walk in faith is fasting and prayer. Introducing a technology fast to your children is a great way to get them to take a break from their screens and get them into the Bible. Just like we fast from food, we are able to fast from technology by setting limits or fully removing it from our lives. This is a great way to get your child to explore their faith more deeply and understand what fasting is like. 

 

Creating a Bucket List or Competition

Humans are competitive in nature. Proposing a bucket list or competition for your child will allow them to develop a spirit of fun to not use technology. Creating a bucket list of activities like building forts, decorating contests and baking would make your child look forward to being off of their devices. Having family competitions like relay races and artistic challenges would be a fun way to get everyone involved and in good spirits.  

Getting out in Nature

Depending on where you live, you can get your kids out in nature doing fun activities after school and during summer break. Going on excursions to amusement parks or nature walks is a great way to decompress as a family. Fishing and swimming are two activities that are both relaxing and will be able to keep the screens away. 

 

In a world that is stuck on the screen, we know how important it is to find ways to engage children outside of technology. That’s why our Orlando Catholic school, located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, encourages children to be active when they are at home. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

5 Ways to Show Teachers Your Appreciation

We love our teachers and staff that pour into classrooms each day. Teaching children and leading them to the future is not always an easy feat. We like to show our appreciation to teachers by being supportive and encouraging while meeting their needs in and out of the classroom. Keep reading for ways that you can show appreciation to your child’s teachers.

Writing Letters of Gratitude

One way to get your child involved in showing their appreciation is by having them write letters to their teachers. They can get their classmates involved by asking them to write letters of their own. This shows teachers that their students care about them and want to take the time to express their gratitude. The students will also be able to express how grateful they are and have an opportunity to learn about how to build better relationships.

A Video Card

This gift would be a great keepsake for teachers to keep for years to come, allowing them to look back at all their students. Start by gathering videos of students leaving a short message to their teachers. Compe these videos onto a flash drive to create a cute small gift to show the care students have for their teacher. Consider decorating the flash drive or picking out a distinctive-looking one so they can tell it apart from others they have. If you want to make a teacher’s day even brighter, add an extra flash drive or two along with the video drive present.

Getting the Community Involved

A teacher’s impact goes beyond the walls of a school; what kids learn from teachers can last a lifetime and affect whole communities. A practical gift would be gift cards and vouchers to local restaurants and small businesses. Going around the town and asking local businesses to help support teachers in this way is a great way to show how much they really impact the world around them. It will also allow teachers to step out into the community and have fun.

Hosting a Surprise Dessert Day

Everyone loves a treat after a job well done; teachers are no different! With the permission of administrators, you can help host a dessert day for your child’s teachers. Bringing in a dessert that teachers love, like coffee cake and ice cream, would be a great way to help break up their day and boost their energy!

School Supplies

Teachers are always using up their school supplies and could always use more. Start by asking if they need specific supplies, which will allow them to feel appreciated and listened to. Find a group of fellow parents who are interested in helping out, and give each parent a list of supplies to contribute. This not only shows appreciation but also helps in fueling your child’s education!

 

Teachers do so much for our students, and it’s important to let them know they’re appreciated. That’s why our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando encourages children to show their teachers appreciation, just as they are taught to in the Bible. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Easter Traditions Around the World

Jesus Has Risen! Easter is widely celebrated around the world as a commemoration to our Savior Jesus’ sacrifice for us. This is a great time to remember that even though we may have different cultures and traditions, we can all come together to celebrate our Lord! Keep reading to learn more about how Easter is celebrated around the world. 

America

New York City is notorious for the grand parades they host every year. The Easter parade is no different. Many gather from near and far to celebrate Easter by watching a parade go down Fifth Avenue. Parade goers are encouraged to wear Kentucky Derby-style bonnets, fascinators or hats that showcase spring colors. 

At the White House in Washington D.C., the President and staff host an Easter Roll on the South Lawn. A lucky few will be invited to the White House to take part in rolling Easter eggs down the lawn with the president of the United States!

Caribbean

Flying kites on Easter is a big Caribbean tradition. The kites symbolize Christ being resurrected, rising from the grave into Heaven. Countries like Bermuda and Guyana will create kites out of colorful paper, sticks and twine. They fly these kites right after a sunrise service, with hot baked buns in hand.  

Europe

In Haux, France, residents make a giant omelet on Easter Monday. Thousands of eggs are used in making this omelet, and it feeds up to 1,000 people! That’s taking Easter eggs to a whole new level. In other European countries, like Finland and Italy, people celebrate Easter by dressing up. In Finland, children dress as witches, donned with colorful paints on their cheeks, and sing blessings to ward off evil spirits. In Italy, people dress up in masks and red robes to reenact the story of Easter. 

The Holy Cities: Vatican City and Jerusalem 

Vatican City is home to the Pope, making it the center of the Catholic world. On Good Friday, the Pope commemorates the way of the cross, leading a procession around the city with candles. On Easter Sunday, the Pope leads Mass, and many flock to St. Peter’s Square to await his blessing. 

Jerusalem is the city where Jesus is said to have been crucified. Many Christians will walk along the same path that Jesus did. They will carry crosses to remember what Jesus went through in His last hours. 

Easter is such an important time for us to remember Jesus’ sacrifice and to be in community with our brothers and sisters around the world. That’s why our Orlando Catholic school. located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando, encourages children to help their communities thrive. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Preparing Your Child for Their First Communion

child praying in First Communion dress

Holy Communion — or the Eucharist — is the source and summit of everything we do as Catholics. In the Catholic faith, children take their first Communion at the age of reason, which is usually at 7 or 8 years old. They receive the Eucharist, or the body and blood of Christ for the first time. This is one of the three sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church. This is a great time for celebration and as such, families will usually have a big celebration afterwards. Here’s how you can prepare your child for this important event in their spiritual life: 

Attend Mass as a Family

Bring your child to Mass every Sunday and days of Holy obligation. Show them how important and special it is to receive the body and blood of Christ through the Eucharist. Get them excited about the fact that it will be their turn soon. Attending Mass will also help your child become more engaged in their faith and feel connected with other believers.

Explain the Real Presence of Christ

Explain to your child that the Eucharist is not just a symbol, but the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ. It is during the Mass, when the priest calls down the Holy Spirit and the miracle of Transubstantiation occurs and the bread and wine becomes Jesus’ body and blood while still appearing as bread and wine.

Consider this when you talk to your child about Communion. Talk about “receiving His body and blood” rather than “taking the bread and the wine” as you prepare. Read from the Bible with your child from John chapter 6 to show them where Jesus himself instituted this sacrament and told us to do this.

priest serving Communion

Practice the Steps

Go through the motions with your child using small crackers and sparkling grape juice. Here’s how you can help your child practice the steps of taking a First Communion: 

  • Show your child how to fold their hands to make a throne and bow their head slightly to show reverence. Remember, your child’s dominant hand goes on the bottom and their non-dominant hand on top. 
  • Say “the body of Christ” like a priest would and have them respond “Amen.”
  • Have your child consume the cracker and juice immediately.
  • Then, have them fold their hands in prayer and walk to another seat in the room.

First Communion is an important time in a Catholic child’s life, and the preparation starts at home. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando encourages children to live in their faith. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

 

The Significance of Epiphany

The word Epiphany means “manifestation,” and the feast is a celebration of the manifestation of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. This is one of the most significant moments in Christian doctrine, almost as significant as His birth and His death. Cultures around the world celebrate this feast, though different regions celebrate in different ways. Learn more about what Epiphany means in the Catholic faith.

What is Epiphany?

Epiphany, also known as Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings’ Day, commemorates the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the gentiles, or the first believers in Jesus as the Son of God. In the West, we celebrate the first visit by the Magi, or Three Kings. Celebrations in the East focus on the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River and His first miracle. Epiphany is one of the three oldest festival days, along with Easter and Christmas. It’s celebrated in most places on January 6, but in the US it’s observed on the Sunday after January 1.

How to Celebrate

The time from Christmas to Epiphany is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas, with the evening before the big day being called the Twelfth Night. As one of Christianity’s oldest traditions, Epiphany is celebrated in very symbolic ways. One way to celebrate is by baking a Three Kings cake, which symbolizes the unity of the Three Kings’ faiths. Children may receive small gifts in their shoes leading up to the day in honor of the Magi’s gifts. Some traditions even involve water as a reflection of the baptism.

Origins

The celebration of Epiphany in January predates the celebration of Christmas on December 25th. The original celebration commemorated the Nativity, Visitation of the Magi, Baptism of Christ and Wedding of Cana all in one feast. The Council of Tours separated the celebrations into Christmas Day and Epiphany in 567. Over time, these celebrations separated more and more to become the liturgical season they encompass today.

Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, is an important celebration for Catholic school students to understand. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

Symbols of Advent and What they Mean

Advent wreath against wall

Liturgical seasons bring with them all kinds of religious symbols. Advent has layers of symbolism that all lead to the main event of Christmas — the birth of Jesus. It goes beyond a Christmas tree; Advent has wreaths, calendars and many different colors of candles. Learn what all these symbols mean.

Advent Wreath

Advent wreaths represent continuous life. The circular shape symbolizes the eternity of God, immortality of the soul, and everlasting life in Christ. Each evergreen woven into the wreath has a different meaning. The laurel represents victory over persecution and suffering. Pine, holly and yew convey immortality. Cedar shows strength and healing. Pine cones symbolize life and resurrection.

Advent candles over a wreath

Advent Candles

Four candles represent four weeks of Advent. Here is what each candle represents:

  • The first candle, known as the Prophecy Candle, symbolizes hope.
  • The second candle, the Bethlehem Candle, symbolizes Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem.
  • The third candle, the Shepherd’s Candle or Candle of Joy, symbolizes joy and is pink in color. Pink represents joy or rejoicing, showing a shift from repentance toward celebration.
  • The fourth candle, the Angel’s Candle, symbolizes peace, reminding us of the message “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”

Candle Colors

The candles lit for advent all mean something different based on their color. Each one represents a different week of the season. Three of the candles are purple, the liturgical color that signifies prayer, penance and sacrifice. Purple, the color of royalty, is traditionally the primary color of Advent. This color shows the anticipation and reception of the “King of Kings.”

Christ Candle

As a more modern tradition, some place a white candle in the middle of their wreath and light it on Christmas Eve. White is for purity, as Christ is a sinless, pure savior. It’s also a symbol of victory, celebrating the birth of Jesus who would go on to become a symbol of hope for Christians.

Advent Calendar close up

Advent Calendar

The Advent calendar is pretty straightforward. Each window of the calendar helps families count down the days until Christmas. Counting down the days using an Advent calendar gives families an idea of what it was like to anticipate Jesus’s birth. These calendars often contain small gifts or candies for children. While these calendars now come in many varieties, from strictly traditional to fun and hobby-based, they all represent the same thing— the period of waiting for Christmas to come. 

Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Diocese of Orlando is more than a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

How Faith Can Benefit Your Child’s Health

boy wearing hat laughing while holding Bible

Children need guidance to get through life, and for many, faith is the perfect guide. Living by rules set in place by a higher authority helps children determine their values, such as compassion and honesty. Feeling at peace and in control helps with both mental and physical health. Faith can benefit children’s health in many ways; here are a few.

A Hopeful Outlook

Faith gives most believers a sense of control over their lives. Those with strong faith feel hopeful and optimistic when they pray and ask God for guidance. They trust that God has their best interests at heart and has a purpose for them. This relationship with God can go both ways. A child experiencing trauma with a limited understanding of scripture may feel punished or abandoned by God. One way to combat this is by listening to your child and helping them open up if they withdraw. You can also point your child to Biblical figures like Job or Joseph, people who experienced loss after loss, but kept their hope rooted in faith.

Better Habits

Christianity emphasizes caring for the physical body as well as the heart, mind and soul. We’re called to be good stewards of our time, talents and resources, and one of the most efficient ways to do that is by practicing healthy routines. Sure, the Bible never explicitly said to make our beds each day, but 1 Corinthians encourages us to do all things in order. Establishing these types of healthy routines gets kids set up to have more time to focus on scripture or, at the very least, feel more empowered in their day to make good choices. 

children with hands in air and teacher

Community Inclusion

Being part of a community, especially one with shared interests and beliefs, has positive effects on mental and physical health. Children who feel like they can trust those around them are more likely to reach out when they need help. People who feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves are less likely to feel isolated and hide their pain when they’re feeling unwell. This gives them a better chance of healing.

girl praying white background

Connection with God

Those with intense faith benefit from their relationship with God, feeling as though they’re talking with a friend when they talk to Him. Having a positive relationship with God and praying often generally has the same benefits of a close, unconditional friendship. Remind your child that prayers aren’t always answered in the way they might hope, but according to Romans, God is working for our good “in all things.” It’s important to talk to your child about their faith to see how they’re doing and how they view religion as part of their lives.

A positive relationship with faith can help children with their mental and physical health. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.

5 Ways to Help Children Find Their Faith

teen girl holding bible

Helping your child learn about and understand the impact of faith on your life will allow it to become a positive force in theirs. There are many ways to help your child find their faith, and some are more effective than others. Here are a few ways we recommend guiding your child on their faith journey. 

Create a Positive Faith Environment

When it comes to learning about faith, children need guidance. Truly understanding how faith can become part of their lives starts with a positive environment. Think of yourself as a leader, not a boss. Encourage your child to join youth groups, Faith based camps and Bible studies so they’ll be surrounded by peers who can talk about faith with them. When they’re struggling, help them turn to prayer for answers. 

mother and teen girl in fruit field

Communicate in a Loving Way

Spend meaningful time with your child so they know they’re a priority in your life. This will earn your child’s trust and make them more likely to listen to what you have to say. Rather than asking questions that provoke one-word answers, try asking “What was the best part of your day?” or “How did you help someone today?” If your child trusts that you have their best interest at heart, they’ll open up to you when they need extra help.

Set a Good Example

One way to teach your child to become a follower of Jesus is by exhibiting Christlike behavior. It may be tempting to air out your frustrations with someone when you think your child is not listening. However, they’re probably listening to you more often than you realize. Treat children, family members and friends with respect, and encourage your child to do the same. Be forgiving, especially when you’re talking to your child. While leading by example is great, it’s also helpful for them to have multiple sources that show how to behave. Consider finding children’s books, movies and other media that promote positive character building. 

woman and red haired boy at desk looking at computer

Help them Understand

In today’s world where everyone has information at their fingertips, “because I said so” no longer flies. Don’t just tell your child what the Catholic religion is trying to teach if they have questions. Help them understand. Show them that helping the poor, homeless, disabled and oppressed improves the world while enriching their lives. Help them understand why attending Mass helps them connect with their faith. Rather than just telling them to be polite, explain how being polite helps them see with a positive lens and brightens others’ days. If they understand why they’re acting a certain way, they’ll be more inclined to continue on their path.

Consider Catholic Education

For some children, Catholic education provides necessary guidance for faith exploration. Being around like minded peers who have the same questions they do can have many benefits. Teachers, families and staff at Catholic schools work together to provide a positive faithful environment. Children can join a faith-filled community and learn the importance of service to others. Mass is available at school, and parents are encouraged to join. These are just a few ways that Catholic education can help students find their faith.

At St. Charles Borromeo, teachers work hard to guide students toward academic and spiritual growth. Our Orlando Catholic school located in the Catholic Diocese of Orlando is more than just a place to learn; it’s a community. Our staff is committed to proclaiming the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. We believe in teaching the whole child and want students to love learning, helping them grow into well-rounded, contributing members of society. Learn more about us by contacting us here.