At-Home Vacation Bible School
Hooray for summer! Ice cream, swimming pools and bike rides are familiar things on the summer to-do list, but a few things will look a little different this summer. And since there may be no Vacation Bible School (VBS) at your parish, why not try an at-home VBS with your children on the all-important sacraments of initiation? As Catholics, we realize that the sacraments are the greatest source of all that is good. And during this crazy time, our children need truth, hope and grace more than ever. (If you want a refresher course on the sacraments before you begin, please visit faithmag.com/theology-101-0.)
Day 1. Baptism – the grace and hope begin here! Baptism is about forgiveness, holy water, the light of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Kids need to know that Christ’s light dispels darkness and fear. Show your kids their baptism candle, outfit and photos, and talk about that special day. Have a family dinner with white cake for dessert to commemorate everyone’s baptismal date. Put these dates on the calendar so you can celebrate them throughout the year.
Then, make a trip to church, look at the baptismal font up close and renew your baptismal promises together. (You can find them here: tinyurl.com/baptismalpromises) Blessing ourselves and our children with holy water is a powerful practice. Decorate a clean glass or plastic container with baptism symbols, and fill it with holy water while you’re visiting the church.
Day 2. Eucharist – the source and summit of our faith. Celebrate the true presence of Jesus. Go to Mass, eucharistic adoration or simply sit together in quiet prayer as a family before the tabernacle. Before you go, read and talk about Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. Spread a tablecloth on the floor and have dinner together reading the story of the Last Supper from Matthew 26 or Luke 22. You might even want to add some of the foods Jesus and his disciples would have shared that night like lamb, bitter herbs (horseradish) and pita bread.
Day 3. Confirmation – come Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit is fully manifested in this sacrament; what began at baptism is made complete. The fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit help us grow in holiness. Read about the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. Have each child choose one fruit of the Spirit they think could help them grow in holiness and write a little prayer to the Holy Spirit asking for an outpouring of that Fruit of the Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is our advocate or helper, plan a project to help someone in your parish, neighborhood or family. It can be anything from lawn work to lemonade, or simply brightening up the day of a lonely neighbor.