September saw upheaval on a national scale: from the change of Prime Minister to the death of Queen Elizabeth II, to the ongoing cost of living crisis. Times of upheaval and uncertainty are understandably difficult and can take their toll on us physically, mentally and emotionally. But as Christians, we can be grateful for and find comfort in the constancy of God’s love and provision.
This newsletter shares some of the content children will experience in school throughout October and suggests ways for you to engage with them about it. We hope and pray that, whatever is going on for you and your family at the moment, these resources will inspire you and your family to look to God.
During September and October, the relics of St Bernadette have been on a tour of England, Scotland and Wales for the very first time! People from all ages and backgrounds have been delighted to experience the special gifts and charisms of Lourdes in a church or cathedral near them. Perhaps you have visited the relics yourself. If not, click here (https://www.cbcew.org.uk/st-bernadette-relic-tour-dates-venues/) to see if the remaining stops on the tour are local to you!
It was the announcement about the tour of St Bernadette’s relics that inspired us to hold the Ten Ten Year of Pilgrimage, which, since it began in January 2022, has seen pupils encounter God through learning about pilgrimage destinations and saints from around the world. This month, to coincide with the tour, children virtually visited Lourdes and learned about St Bernadette’s amazing encounter with Our Lady. Why not watch her story again with your child/ren:
Children learned that, just like St Bernadette, pilgrims today can visit the grotto in Lourdes:
Children heard about how St Bernadette showed faith and openness to God by praying with Our Lady and doing what she was asked to do - she did not let anything distract her from loving and trusting in God totally!
Sometimes we can become distracted from what is really important. Our Lady encouraged Bernadette to turn to Jesus in penance, and so receive God’s love and forgiveness. Through the Ten Ten Year of Pilgrimage, children have learned that pilgrimages give us a great opportunity to experience God’s amazing love and change our hearts so that like St Bernadette, we are ready to listen to Him.
Being honest with ourselves, and experiencing God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of our holy pilgrimage purposes: penance. Children learned that penance involves saying sorry and helps us to grow our friendship with God!
Watch what the Pilgrimage Guides had to say at the end of this assembly:
Be Faithful In Prayer
In the assembly for the week commencing 17th October, through comparisons between a parable Jesus told and a well-known fable, children learned that not giving up on prayer leads to a deeper relationship with God.
First, children participated in an interactive re-telling of Aesop’s fable The Tortoise and the Hare, in which the tortoise demonstrates unfaltering commitment and ends up winning the race against the usually much faster hare! This well-known story helped children to better understand a parable that Jesus once told about someone who never gave up. Why not read it again with your child/ren:
Luke 18: 1 - 8 (Paraphrased)
Jesus told His disciples a story about how they should always pray and not give up:
A woman who was a widow, appeared in front of the city’s judge, “I need your help. My enemies are bullying me.”
Now this man was a bad judge - he didn’t care about people or even God! He ignored the widow, though she kept asking for his help. All day and all night she kept begging for him to help her. The judge couldn’t get rid of her.
Eventually he said to himself, “Even though I don’t care for this woman, I am going to help her because she keeps pestering me with her constant requests!”
Jesus said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he decided to help the widow in the end. So, don’t you think God will surely help His people that He loves by answering their requests? I promise you, He will.”
Through this parable, children learned that prayer is part of who we are because we have been made to be in relationship (friendship) with God. Often, we forget or choose not to pray. However, the more we pray and don’t give up, the closer our relationship with God will be.
Children learned that God promises to answer our prayers: we can trust that God hears us and won’t delay in answering us!
The widow (like the Tortoise in the race) did not give up on her request and she was helped, even though the judge did not care for her. But unlike the judge, children learned that God loves us and wants to answer our prayers! When we pray, God listens and He steps into action. We can be sure that prayer changes things!
In this assembly, children learned that we can pray to God at any time, in any place and about anything. Things don’t have to be perfect for us to pray and not give up – just think of the tortoise who was slow and the widow who was being bullied! By choosing to pray, we are showing God that we trust Him with what’s going on in our lives, and we are welcoming the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance.
Discuss the differences between the judge in the parable and God, for example:
In the week commencing 10th October, the prayers used by children in the classroom invited them to ‘ring out their joy’, inspired by Psalm 98:4.
This month, why not let your family prayers be inspired by the things that bring you joy. Some days these might be easy to identify, some days they might be harder to find – but practising looking for joy leads us to find it more regularly and with less effort!
Here are some questions which might help inspire prayerful conversations:
To finish your family prayer time, why not say together the words below: