“For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.”
Source: USCCB.org (Luke 2:11)
“The time has come for Mary to give birth. Far from home, Joseph and Mary find shelter in a stable in Bethlehem. In the darkness of night, Jesus is born. As shepherds guard their flocks in fields nearby, an angel appears in the sky, announcing the Savior’s birth. Suddenly, the sky is filled with angels, praising and giving glory to God.”
Source: Magnifikid! Prayers for Schools Page 259
For Parents to Teach to Their Children
The lesson this week is on the third of the “Joyful Mysteries” “The Nativity,” which tells the story of the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. The Mysteries of the Rosary are our template for learning about the life of Jesus. Click to learn how to pray the Rosary: Catholic-Kids.com.
The Joyful Mysteries begin with The Annunciation and are “Said on Mondays and Saturdays, the Sundays of Advent,
and Sundays from Epiphany until Lent.”
“The Joyful Mysteries”
- “The Annunciation
Mary learns that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.
- The Visitation
Mary visits Elizabeth, who tells her that she will always be remembered.
- The Nativity
Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem.
- The Presentation
Mary and Joseph take the infant Jesus to the Temple to present him to God.
- The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
Jesus is found in the Temple discussing his faith with the teachers.”
Our Art Gallery
“Advent Wreath”… “Star of Bethlehem”… “The Nativity of Jesus”
A Reading for the Family, “The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ”
“This text, The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, may be chanted or recited, most appropriately on December 24, during the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours. It may also be chanted or recited before the beginning of Christmas Mass during the Night. It may not replace any part of the Mass. (The musical notation is found in Appendix I of the Roman Missal, Third Edition.)”
“The Twenty-fifth Day of December,
when ages beyond number had run their course
from the creation of the world,
when God in the beginning created heaven and earth,
and formed man in his own likeness;
when century upon century had passed
since the Almighty set his bow in the clouds after the Great Flood,
as a sign of covenant and peace;
in the twenty-first century since Abraham, our father in faith,
came out of Ur of the Chaldees;
in the thirteenth century since the People of Israel were led by Moses
in the Exodus from Egypt;
around the thousandth year since David was anointed King;
in the sixty-fifth week of the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
in the year seven hundred and fifty-two
since the foundation of the City of Rome;
in the forty-second year of the reign of Caesar Octavian Augustus,
the whole world being at peace,
JESUS CHRIST, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to consecrate the world by his most loving presence,
was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and when nine months had passed since his conception,
was born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem of Judah,
and was made man:
The Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.”
Source: USCCB.org “The Nativity Of Our Lord Jesus Christ From The Roman Martyrology”
Praying the Rosary
Please read the Apostles’ Creed out loud with your children. Read it slowly, line for line, explaining the meaning and significance of the lines to your children. It explains what we believe in as Catholics. If possible, read this daily to help your children memorize the prayer.
“Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, purify me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Suffer me not to be separated from you.
From the malicious enemy, defend me.
In the hour of my death call me
and bid me come unto you,
that with your saints I may praise you
for ever and ever. Amen.”
“Jesus, gentle and meek of heart,
make my heart like yours.”
“O Mary, conceived without sin,
pray for us who have recourse to you.”
“O God, create in me a pure heart.
My God, come to my aid,”
make haste to help me.”
Source: A Missal for Children
My Bethlehem Experience
In June, 2017, I visited the Nativity Church and the Manger Grotto in Bethlehem. My son, Father William Goldin, was my guide. He celebrated Mass, with me as the lector, in the Manger Grotto, and we were joined by two nuns. One nun was from Aleppo in Syria and the other was a Christian Palestinian from Bethlehem. I was quite surprised to realize that Jesus was actually born in a cave. Our taxi driver told us that for many centuries before and after Jesus was born, people in this region lived in caves. It is a rough, desert area and the town of Bethlehem is ancient, built upon a ridge. It was confusing to think about the images of Mary and Baby Jesus in a lovely stable with straw in the wooden manger. In fact, the manger, which is a trough that holds the food for the sheep and other livestock, was actually a cold hewn-rock vessel. In Western tradition, the rock cave has changed over two thousand years to become a European-style wooden barn, cosy with straw and familiar farm animals. This is not a malicious deception. It is how stories change over time and how cultures add their own knowledge of the world to these stories. I was surprised to see the ruggedness of the cave Jesus was most likely to have been born in. These were harsh living conditions. However, I recently learned that the average year-round temperature of a cave in Bethlehem is about 69 degrees. What a great relief that must have been for the Holy Family from the cold winter weather.
The caves of this region provided shelter and safety for thousands of years to the inhabitants of this region. We must understand that people adapt to the landscape they live in. Some people in Bethlehem still live in caves, today.
Everything we saw and visited helped me understand how strong, brave, and indomitable the Holy Family was.
A Traditional Nativity Song
1 O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting Light;
the hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.
2 For Christ is born of Mary,
and gathered all above,
while mortals sleep, the angels keep
their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars, together
proclaim the holy birth,
and praises sing to God the King,
and peace to all on earth.
3 How silently, how silently
the wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heaven.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him still
the dear Christ enters in.
4 O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in;
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Emmanuel.
To Hear the Tune:
“O Holy Night” with Lyrics
Our Writing Project
A “Thank You” Note to Mary
We all owe a huge “Thank You” to Mary.
She said “Yes!” to God when the angel, Gabriel, gave her the message that she was to have a Son and was to call Him “Jesus.”
Mary bravely walked to Ein Karem from Nazareth, an eighty-plus mile, rocky and rough journey to help her much older cousin, Elizabeth, and to share the good news to her own baby. Of course, Elizabeth already knew that Mary was carrying her “Lord!” God had told her so.
She again was brave and strong, when she and her husband, Joseph, had to travel to Bethlehem for the census. Mary rode on the back of a small donkey, while preparing to deliver her baby.
Imagine how tired she must have been by the time the inn keeper rejected the expectant couple. That is a message for all of us–“Treat others as you wish to be treated!”
Mary delivered the precious Son, with Joseph, in a rock-hewn stable for animals. Cold and dark, the Holy Family kept their baby warm and fed.
The Angels announced His birth to humble shepherds, who came to pay Baby Jesus homage. Three kings followed a bright star to find the precious baby who was born the Messiah.
Mary had a profound and awesome job–raising the Son of God, Wholly Human and Wholly Divine–keeping him safe and protected from terrible threats and powerful enemies!
Invite your child to write a “Thank You” note to Mary. Provide paper (folded into a note or full size), writing tools (markers, Sharpie pens, colored pencils, etc.), lovely stickers and a glue stick. When the watercolor painting below is dry, glue the letter to Mary to the back as a Nativity memento. Younger children might write, “I love you, Mary.” or another simple sentence of gratitude and love.
Our Art Project #1–The Star of Bethlehem Print and Collage (From Top of Page)
Here is how to make one painting and three copies:
Note* This method shows a different print being made with the same technique as used for the “Star of Bethlehem.”
1. Squirt an Oreo-size glob of both white liquid glue and liquid acrylic paint onto a paper plate, for the back ground color.
2. Mix with brush and start painting the watercolor paper, rapidly. You can make stripes or any design you like on the glue/paint mixture.
3. When done, quickly place a new, clean sheet of watercolor paper on top of the wet, first sheet.
4. Press down, all over, with your hands, then peel off.
5. Repeat twice or three times depending on how mach paint is still on original sheet of paper.
6. Let all sheets of paper dry completely, then decorate or paint as desired.
Expect that the sheets of paper will look different with each printing. Feel free to add anything you’d like to the prints–gold paint, cut-outs, new paintings, etc. If something doesn’t work as you wish, let dry, then cut up to make a collage out of one or more of the sheets of paper. This is a great project for learning that mistakes can become something beautiful!
I used gold and silver acrylic paint on watercolor paper to make the columns of stars and the “Star of Bethlehem.” I tore and cut the gold and silver painted paper, then glued them into place. I used scissors for the star and rays. The three prints at the very top of the page are all collages based on the same printed background.
Our Art Project #2– A Watercolor of the Sky Over Bethlehem
The Sky Above Bethlehem on The Nativity
This watercolor was done using a water soluble pastel crayon to make the arches, rays and cross. I painted over the marks with dry cake-style watercolors, using lots of water to get good color saturation. When it dried, I used a tooth brush rubbed into white watercolor with less water than normal, to create splatter on the painting to mimic stars. Shake off excess water before splattering. If a big drop lands somewhere, simply blot up with a paper towel. Watercolors are very forgiving when it comes to “mistakes!”
Suggested Homework Activities–Week Thirteen
Family Discussion–“Are you surprised that Jesus was born in a cave?” “What do you think that would have been like for the family?”
Please read with your children: “The Birth of Jesus” in a Catholic children’s Bible, your family Bible or on the USCCB.org website Luke 2:1-7.
Excerpt from The Catholic Bible for Children– “The Birth of Jesus” Pages 102-103
“The Roman emperor ordered a great census to count all the people on earth. Joseph and Mary set out for Bethlehem, in the land of Joseph’s family. However, it was almost time for Mary’s baby to be born, and she was tired out by the long journey.”
“In Bethlehem, Joseph knocked on every door, trying to find a room, but there was no place left for them anywhere. So Mary and Joseph took shelter in a stable. That night, the child was born. Mary wrapped him up and laid him in the animals’ manger.”