Spring Resources for Your Classroom and Your Soul

Divine Mercy, Rogation Days, and a retreat for teachers

By Celeste Behe

Divine Mercy

… that the message of God’s merciful love proclaimed by St. Faustina may be made known to all the peoples of the earth … In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness. – St. John Paul II

This year, Divine Mercy Sunday is April 8. Help prepare your students with a Young Hearts Classroom Kit. The kit includes 25 images of the Divine Mercy, the Divine Mercy for Young Hearts DVD, and a companion CD-ROM with over 100 worksheets and activities appropriate for grades K through 12.

Rogation Days

The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. (Deut. 28:12)

The Church calendar used to include four Rogation Days, one of which was celebrated on April 25, the feast of St. Mark. Designated as a time of petition for a fruitful harvest, Rogation Days — from the Latin “rogare,” meaning “to ask” — were customarily observed with processions through fields, during which crops were blessed and the Litany of the Saints recited. Although ours is no longer an agrarian society, our survival will always depend upon God’s bounty. Why not discuss the significance of Rogation Days in your classroom and then adapt its ancient customs? Begin the lesson with these farm to table resources that help young children make the connection between agriculture and the food they consume every day. (Your students may also enjoy this video, which gives a brief but fascinating peek at the fresh foods on Pope Francis’ table.) With older students, consider leading a discussion of the encyclical Laudato Si, using this post from FOCUS as a jumping-off point. No Rogation Day observance would be complete without at least a cursory procession. Gather up some musical instruments — try plastic bin shakers, matchbox guitars or jingle bells strung on pipe cleaners — that can be used to “make a joyful noise.” Then take your students on a walk around the school grounds. If possible, have Father join the march to bless the grounds and lead the Litany of the Saints; otherwise, recite the litany with your students once the music-making subsides. Wrap up your Rogation Day observance with a rendition of “For the Beauty of the Earth.”

Summer Academic Retreat for Teachers

Remember the old schoolchildren’s rhyme that begins “No more pencils, no more books …”?  Although we may not be there yet, the month of June is fast approaching.  Make plans now to recharge your spiritual batteries with an end-of-school-year academic retreat sponsored by the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education and designed especially for teachers and school administrators. The retreat, which is being held from June 19-22 at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, will explore truth as it is found across the disciplines in the typical Catholic liberal education curriculum. Encounters with the great traditions and with fellow retreatants will be fostered through conversation and small group discussion. Take advantage of the Early Bird discount by reserving your place in this “vibrant Catholic learning community” before April 16.

Celeste Behe is a blogger, speaker, and ardent Toastmaster. She lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with her husband Mike and eight of their nine children.