Mary brings us closer to Jesus—we know this from the consistent witness of the saints through the history of the Church. Since we want our children to grow close to Jesus, it makes sense to introduce them early on to Mary, the mother of Jesus, who will help them through all the difficult moments of their lives.
Do as I Do
Simply having a statue or picture of Mary in the house or classroom is a way to share your love for Mary with your children. Growing up, I remember several pictures of Mary and a couple statues of her in our home. I recall them as a beloved part of my childhood. Having an image of Mary in a place of honor is a beautiful way to witness to your children.
Of course, it’s important that they come to understand who Mary is—not just a beautiful statue on a pedestal, but a real person. Even very young children can understand that “Jesus’ mommy” loves and cares for them. (My oldest niece loved an outdoor statue of Mary when she was little. Once, she went up to the statue, patted Mary on the head and said, “Don’t worry, Mary. Baby Jesus will be born soon!”)
Let your children see you with your rosary or wearing a Marian medal. Reading books about Mary to your children can also kindle their relationship with her. (There are many great Marian books for kids. To start: the darling board book, Mary Mother of Jesus is wonderful for preschoolers. For older elementary students, Our Blessed Mother: The Story of Mary for Children has more in-depth information and beautiful illustrations.)
Think Big, Start Small
October is traditionally dedicated to the Rosary. It’s great to pray the rosary together as a family, but you can start small and work your way up to that. Begin by setting up an image of Mary in a place of honor, where you can pray three Hail Marys with your children at bedtime. That could eventually become a decade of the Rosary, or the whole Rosary.
Tips for praying all or part of a Rosary:
- Try reading a verse from the Bible with each mystery. An older child can do this.
- For each decade, ask your children to think of people for whom they want to pray. Intercessory prayer comes very easily to children.
- Get material for children on the Rosary (such as My Rosary Coloring Book, I Pray the Rosary, Rosary posters.) There is also The Rosary Comic Book, which tells the story of each mystery using one large frame and ten smaller ones, so that children can actually pray each decade as they meditate on the mystery by reading along in the book.
Through the Year
October is the month of the Rosary, and May is Mary’s month in general, but there are also many, many feasts of Mary that can be celebrated. How about letting each child pick one for the family to celebrate? Or celebrating one each month?
Celebrating a feast of Mary can be as simple as putting Mary’s image on the dining room table for a special meal or playing Marian hymns while making/eating dessert. You could add to the celebration by making Marian decorations and crafts or going on a pilgrimage to a nearby shrine of Mary (or even a parish dedicated to her under one of her titles).
Whatever way you can share Mary with your children is pleasing to her, and of course, pleasing to Jesus, who wants us all to love his mother as much as he does!
— Sr Maria Grace Dateno, FSP