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.

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.

April: Month of the Holy Eucharist

communion cup and plate set at altar

After the reflective period of Lent, Easter comes around, and then Catholics dedicate the entire month to celebrating Jesus’s presence in their lives. Known as the Month of the Holy Eucharist, April is a time when the Catholic Church focuses on the Sacrament of Holy Communion. This is unique to the Catholic Church as we believe that the Eucharist is the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Holy Eucharist

The Month of the Holy Eucharist, also called the Month of the Blessed Sacrament, celebrates Jesus manifesting himself in the Body and Blood while still under the appearance of bread and wine. The institution of the Eucharist started at the Last Supper by Jesus Himself, the last time Jesus and his disciples gathered before his crucifixion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to the Eucharist as “the source and summit of our faith.” In observation, everyone at Mass kneels in adoration during the transfiguration, the point that the bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of Jesus.  

Ways to Observe

Catholics celebrate the Month of the Holy Eucharist in many ways. Here are a few:

  • Begin to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, an ancient prayer that presents a path to praying through the Book of Psalms throughout the year.
  • Recite the “Jesus Prayer” by repeating the phrase “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner” until it brings you peace.
  • Read about the life of a saint, and pray by his or her side. Many saints have their own prayers regarding the Eucharist.
  • Pour out your heart directly to Jesus by telling Him all that comes to your mind, and listen for a response. 
  • Pray the Rosary, and ask Mary to join you while you do so. 

Soul of Christ (Anima Christi) Prayer

Anima Christi is a prayer that you can say as an act of adoration, thanking Jesus for his continued presence on Earth. This prayer is from the 14th Century and is commonly said after receiving Holy Communion:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me

Body of Christ, save me

Blood of Christ, inebriate me

Water from Christ’s side, wash me

Passion of Christ, strengthen me

O good Jesus, hear me

Within Thy wounds hide me

Suffer me not to be separated from Thee

From the malicious enemy defend me

In the hour of my death call me And bid me come unto Thee

That I may praise Thee with Thy saints

and with Thy angels Forever and ever

Amen.

At St. Charles Borromeo, we believe that having a strong foundation of faith helps children excel in all areas of life. 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.

The Days of Holy Week

holy-week-cross

To mark the end of Lent, Christians celebrate Holy Week to commemorate the final days of Jesus’ life and His resurrection. Each day has its own significance and is celebrated differently. Take time with your child to help him understand the meaning of each of these days. Here is a guide to Holy Week from an Orlando Catholic school:

Palm Sunday

The sixth and final Sunday in Lent is known as Palm Sunday. This commemorates Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. To celebrate, churchgoers wave palm branches like the crowds of the time. Showing humility and fulfilling a prophecy, Jesus rode in on a donkey. On this Sunday, crowds observing Passover in Jerusalem proclaimed Jesus the messianic king. In some churches, worshippers wear crosses made of palm fronds. Palm Sunday is also referred to as “Passion Sunday,” because “passion” comes from a Latin word meaning “to suffer.”

Holy Thursday

The first day of the shortest liturgical season, the Easter Triduum, is Holy Thursday. This day commemorates the last day before Jesus was arrested. To represent the Last Supper, churches celebrate the Last Supper Mass and the last Communion before Easter. Other events include the betrayal of Judas and Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Certain sects refer to this day as “Maundy Thursday,” with “maundy” meaning “to give,” “to entrust,” or “to order.” Aside from giving Communion, churches celebrate with the ceremonial washing of feet, just as Jesus washed the feet of his Apostles this night. After Mass, the tabernacle empties out, and the hosts move to another location for adoration. The church is truly empty during these days of remembrance leading up to the Easter Vigil. 

Good Friday

On this day of Holy Week, Christians do not celebrate but take time for reflection, honoring the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made. Good Friday commemorates the arrest, trial, crucifixion, suffering, death and burial of Jesus Christ. No one hosts a Mass celebration on this day anywhere in the world, rather a musicless, dimly lit gathering and sometimes a Communion service. There are a couple ways this day is observed. Eat church will have a Veneration of the Cross, where worshippers bow before or kiss a large cross. This is also a day of fasting and abstinence. Fasting means we eat smaller meals for breakfast and lunch with a normal sized dinner and not eating between meals. Abstinence means we avoid meat on this day. 

Easter Vigil and Easter

On Saturday, day 7 of Holy Week, Christians practice quiet meditation while remembering the faithful and honoring martyrs. Catholic churches host a candlelight vigil after sundown that begins outside the church with a fire and the blessing of the Easter Candle. All at once during Mass the lights in the Church will come on and we will sing Alleluia as Jesus has risen from the dead and conquered death! Then, all day Sunday, worshippers celebrate Jesus rising from the dead. The music, communion, and celebratory nature return. After church, families get together for brunch, Easter egg hunts, and dinner, traditionally serving lamb to mark the end of Lent. At our Orlando Catholic school, we believe Holy Week is important for children to observe and understand.

St. Charles Borromeo, an 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.

Celebrating Catholic Schools Week

student walking with book

The 47th annual Catholic Schools Week is coming up, and this year’s theme is “Faith. Excellence. Service.” At St. Charles Borromeo, an Orlando Catholic school, we believe these three words perfectly represent Catholic education. We will be launching our Catholic Schools Week with an open house Sunday, January 31st, and we welcome anyone who is interested in our school to join. Here is what we will be celebrating that week:

Emphasis on Faith

Faith is the foundation of a well-rounded Catholic education. Our students participate in daily prayer and gather weekly for Mass. By incorporating faith into our education, we remind students that their belief is an important aspect of daily life. Every step of the way, our students know that God is by their side. This is just one of many ways we help our students become responsible citizens of the world.

classroom with plexiglass

Promoting Academic Excellence

Challenging students with academics that prepare them for the real world is a priority at our school. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Education awarded St. Charles Borromeo the honor of being a Blue Ribbon School, placing it in the top 200 schools in the nation for academic excellence. Every year, we aspire to maintain this level of achievement with a rigorous curriculum that helps students reach their full potential. 

children packing lunches

Service to our Community

As part of our curriculum at St. Charles Borromeo, we strongly encourage students to help those in need. Some service projects take place during school hours so our students can work together toward a common cause. We also believe parent involvement is crucial to building our school community, so we established a parent volunteer program called P.A.W.S. With every family doing their part, our school can help every part of our Orlando community.

St. Charles Borromeo, an 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.

Meet St. Charles Borromeo

St. Charles Borromeo

Every year on November 4th, we get together to celebrate the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo. The namesake of our school, St. Charles Borromeo is the patron saint of bishops, catechists and other spiritual leaders. As one of the most important bishops of all time, he continues to inspire our mission to this day. At St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School, students from Pre-K to 8th grade learn how to live as St. Charles Borromeo did — with faith leading the way.

Early Life of St. Charles Borromeo

St. Charles Borromeo grew up in an aristocratic, wealthy family and the third of six children. At the age of 12, St. Charles Borromeo decided to dedicate his life to serving the church. The only money that interested him was what he needed for education and his work with the church. As a young adult, he worked as secretary of state for his uncle, Cardinal Gian Angelo de’Medici, also known as Pope Pius IV. St. Charles Borromeo helped draft a catechism and contributed to the reform of liturgical books and music, then became a bishop at the age of 25. 

St. Charles Borromeo communion

Accomplishments of St. Charles Borromeo

After becoming a bishop at such a young age, St. Charles Borromeo went on to become the first resident archbishop of Milan in 80 years. He founded a literary academy, colleges and other schools along the way. He gave most of his money to the poor, and he helped nurse and feed families during the plague. Along with helping his fellow man, he reorganized the diocese, established seminaries, enforced standards of morality and founded a confraternity to teach Christian doctrine to children. This was not popular with everyone, however, and an attempt was made on his life. 

Relatively unscathed after the assassination attempt, St. Charles Borromeo went on to work in Switzerland to help combat witchcraft and other heretical teachings. He died in 1584 at the age of 46, and Pope John XXIII dedicated a feast to him later that year. In 1610, St. Charles Borromeo officially became a saint. 

Celebrate the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo

There are several ways to celebrate the Feast of St. Charles Borromeo. The most popular, of course, is to eat. In honor of the patron saint of Italy, it is customary to eat an Italian meal. Cook together as a family, allowing your child to participate in making the food to honor this saint. Tell his story to your children so they can appreciate the rich background of their school. 

St. Charles Borromeo 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.