As a catechist, catechetical leader, and parent, I have become quite a fan of Tomie dePaola. His deep love of the Catholic faith shines through his books and artwork. He engages children with the saints, the Bible, respect for all life, care for creation, self-esteem, standing up to bullies, love and deep respect for family and tradition, and so many more positive themes.
My children spent countless nights falling asleep to tales of Strega Nona and Big Anthony, the memories of Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, the story of Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka, and so many others. When we adopted our son, our middle child, a dear friend gave us a board book of Tomie's, called "I Love you Sun, I Love You Moon," which was a gorgeous, childlike take on St. Francis' Canticle of Creation. Since my friend and I had both attended college at a Franciscan school, it was very meaningful.
A few years later, the Learning Post had Tomie in house for a book signing. I brought our precious board book, and it now bears his signature. My children still remember that very special day.
Tomie, like many of us, has noticed something about our world today, particularly as it pertains to children. Many of us don't know how to be quiet anymore. We are constantly on the go, preoccupied with keeping ourselves entertained and connected, depending on our electronic devices to keep our children occupied and in check. Tomie's latest book is simply entitled, "Quiet." It is an invitation and challenge to parents to help our children cultivate the skill of just being. For it is only in just being in the presence of God that we can truly learn to pray.
Please click here for a touching interview with Tomie, conducted by one of the staff of America magazine. And whether you are moved to buy his new book, "Quiet," or not, make time with your children for quiet and just being. It is so important to our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health that we just be quiet and let God, nature, and the world around us, in. And if you haven't, go to the library and check out some stories about Strega Nona and Bambalona, or any of the other flawed, human, lovable characters Tomie has written and drawn.
Oh When the Saints Go Marching In...
During November, we remember those who have gone before us to the other side of death. We focus on the saints all month long. But really, the saints are our companions on the journey all throughout the year. Click here to find "Saint Stories for All Ages." You will see a different saint featured each day. Get to know some new friends on your faith journey!
Make Mealtime Family Time!
At Faith Formation this month, we drew parallels between our Thanksgiving meal and the meal we share when we celebrate Eucharist. The adults heard that every Sunday Mass is a little Easter celebration, and I propose that every family meal is a little Thanksgiving dinner. In other words, it is important for us to draw together at the family table as often as we can, not just at the big feasts like Thanksgiving.
Family meals are important for many reasons. Studies show that children and teenagers whose families eat supper together regularly tend to earn better grades, have fewer mental health and substance abuse issues, and often eat more nutritiously. Family meals are also important to young people's spiritual development. Children first learn about God from their parents -- not so much because of what we parents TEACH them, but by what we SHOW them. They learn that God loves them unconditionally because we love them unconditionally. They learn that they can tell God anything because they can tell us anything. And children first learn about the Mass at the family dinner table. They learn the importance of sharing stories and the news of our lives. They learn about good manners and courtesy -- and so much more.
Click here for an article with suggestions about how to make the most of our family meal time.