Friday, January 16, 2009

40 More Flowers for Jesus' Garden!

These ideas were developed by me for my local group and are not a part of the official Little Flowers Girls Club ® created by Rachel Watkins. To purchase the excellent materials and begin your own local group, please visit

What a joy! Today, we had our first Little Flowers Girls Club with our local Catholic homeschooling group. I have anxiously awaited an opportunity to lead Little Flowers and feel so blessed to have an amazing group of beautiful young girls ages 4-11 excited to grow in virtue.

There are 40 girls signed up for our club, and I have 9 moms committed to helping at every meeting. Plus, the other moms are more than generous with providing snack, watching siblings, or jumping in to help spontaneously! Today was proof that this group will be successful, because it is not all on my shoulders!

We began our meeting with some opening prayers standing around the prayer table I had created. It had a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and one of St. Therese. I had a candle and a crucifix and some silk roses all on a lace-trimmed tablecloth. I read a simple offering prayer and this amazing quote from Blessed Angela Foligno:

If you want faith, pray. If you want hope, pray. If you want kindness, pray. If you want poverty, pray. If you want humility, pray. If you want gentleness, pray. If you want strength, pray. If you want any virtue, pray.

I taught the girls a simple song to Mary to the tune of Frere Jacques, and we prayed a Hail Mary together. I was very impressed with how attentive the girls were.

Then, I did a little classroom management. I taught them the chant, "God is good --- all the time!" to get their attention when I need it. I told them our three club rules: Raise your hand if you have something to say. Look with your eyes at the person who is talking. Have fun! Being a group of homeschooled girls, some of them are not used to raising their hands, so I am sure I will have many reminders to make!

We will usually do our virtue presentation and craft before our game, but since this was our introductory meeting, I wanted to do a warm-up game. We played Welcome Bingo, which is where you try to get a different person to sign each square of your "card" where a statement describes them. For example, one square said, "I have curly hair like St. Therese." Another said, "I can name three different kinds of flowers." And there was, "I am wearing my blue Little Flowers sash." There were 16 squares, because I wanted to force them to talk to one another.

For the game, I paired them up to work in teams, one younger girl with one older girl, because some of the younger ones cannot read or write yet. This worked really well, because it forced the older girls to separate from their friends. It took a while for the girls to get warmed up and comfortable asking one another to sign their "card," but once they did, they had a great time of it and impressed me with how well they worked together.

After this, I did make a little presentation about virtues and St. Therese. I involved them a lot by asking what they already know, and their answers were just precious! It was hard for me to talk that long (maybe ten minutes) to such a diverse group, so I think I will need some visuals for the virtue presentations.

Then, I explained their small groups. I divided them basically by age with a few exceptions and named each small group after a different type of Old Garden Rose with France as its origin. What this means is that these roses likely grew in St. Therese's garden at home or at the convent. This was so fun to research and choose the roses from catalogs! I used the images on signs and name tags to help the girls find one another, too.

We took a short snack break and divided into small groups to decorate the canvas tote bags and white folders I had purchased for each girl. The tote bags were a great deal at Oriental Trading Company, and we used Crayola Fabric Markers and fabric paints to write their names and draw flowers. They also used foam flowers and letters to stick on both. This was a fun and very easy craft for our first meeting; I am glad I kept it simple!

Finally, we closed in prayer. I had gone around and collected prayer intentions from many of the girls during craft time. I began our closing prayers by asking each girl by name if she would commit to growing in virtue after the model of St. Therese. They responded as small groups, "I do." Then, we read the Prayer to St. Therese together, and I read the prayer intentions and prayed the Child of Mary prayer for the girls.

It was very windy, and we kept chasing things that blew away. We decided to try meeting at a pavilion at one of the local parks, because it is centrally located, free, and has a nearby playground for the siblings to play. I think it will work very well if the wind is not so strong, because it felt good to be outside talking about flowers and virtuous living!

What a joyous day! I had so much fun planning and preparing for this first meeting, and we didn't even discuss a virtue yet! We are meeting every other week, so I have two weeks to get prepared for our first virtue. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful girls in our club. Most of them came up to me personally after the meeting and thanked me for everything. A few of them came to me at various points during and after the meeting and confided in me some story or observation. I am in awe.

The Lord is certainly humbling me by allowing me to lead this group. I have been given a talent for organization, and every time I use it in a leadership role, I feel less and less of it comes from me. I am grateful for this reminder that God created me in His image with all my strengths and weakness out of pure love for me. It is all Him. May He use me for His glory.

Per the request of the official Little Flowers Girls Club ® I have removed the downloadable patch project sheets and practice pages. If you are interested in learning about how I used these documents in my group, please contact me directly.

Sunday, January 18, 2009 ~ Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).

John 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.


On the way home from our first Little Flowers Girls Club meeting today, Therese asked me what is my favorite virtue. This was a profound question, and in true teacher style, she gave me a few examples to help me along. Is it sharing? Is it caring? Never mind that the nine virtues we are learning this year are faith, hope, love of God, love of neighbor, obedience, piety, humility, industry, and truthfulness. It was only our first meeting, after all!

I had no doubt of my answer - Love of God! She did not ask me to explain, but I will try anyway. The Gospel for this Sunday extends an invitation to us. Jesus says, "Come and see." He does not simply reply to these men that he is staying at such and such's home near such and such. He invites them to be with him, apparently long into the afternoon, and they accept this spontaneous invitation. Do we?

Oh, how I would gladly spend a day with my Jesus! To sit at His feet as Mary of Bethany did and bask in His presence. To listen to every word He speaks but barely lift my head in awestruck silence. To take the time to love Him completely while doing absolutely nothing else.

In every tabernacle in the world, He is present, waiting, hoping that we will go see Him. In every quiet corner of our homes, He sits in anticipation for the moment we will go to Him. God's love for us and desire for us is more passionate than any human love could ever be. All He wants is for us to take the time to "Come and see." When we visit with His love, our love for Him multiplies dramatically.

Yes, our time is precious, and it is not always easy to find quiet moments, much less long afternoons, to spend with the Lord. We have noisy children, after all, and perhaps a husband who is barely home. Nevertheless, the absolute importance of setting aside time to be with Him is vital to our sanctification.

Can you commit to an hour a week in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament? You must. Can you commit to fifteen or thirty minutes a day of silent mental prayer? Make it a habit. I do not mean praying the Rosary, which is efficacious indeed, or spiritual reading during this time. The Lord wants us to talk with Him, listen to Him, simply worship Him. If you need to ask a friend to watch your children while you pray, maybe you can do the same for her.

I cannot tell you how profound a Holy Hour has been for me over the years. It has always been and remains a struggle to find the time to go to the chapel for a whole hour, but it is a priority. When I make the hour and spend that time with Jesus, my life is different. I love Him more.

Last year, my wise pastor told me that I needed to be in Adoration for one hour and fifteen minutes each week. This was apparently something that Archbishop Fulton Sheen taught, that it takes an hour for us to get the octopus of the world off of our backs before we can truly be alone with God. This wisdom brought amazing graces to me every time I stayed those extra fifteen minutes. Try it.

"Behold the Lamb of God." He waits for you.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Our Priests Need Us!

Last month, a friend sent me this Vatican document titled Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests put out by the Congregatio Pro Clerics in 2007. It is an inspiring document which compiles 16 stories of women, lay and religious, praying and suffering in a special way for priests.

One of the women profiled, Venerable Conchita of Mexico, is a saint I have been getting to know these past few months, an amazing mother, widow, and victim soul. In the book Loving with the Holy Spirit, one of her reflections states, "Like a moth irresistibly attracted to light will I seek sacrifices to offer on behalf of priests." She was devoted to following Jesus' instructions to her to "Bring yourself as an offering for the priests. Unite your offering with my offering, to obtain graces for them."

As mothers, our priests need us! Conchita was told by Jesus of priests (in 1926) that "Satan wants to defeat many of those who belong to Me by tempting them to impurity. Pray for purity, an increase of purity for them, that they may overcome this temptation. There are many hidden sins." Over 80 years later we know all too well the result of a failure of the laity to pray for and support our priests in this way!

So, I challenge you to read this document. It is not long and each profile is only a few pages, allowing you to read it in small snatched moments throughout several days. Then, find some small way to begin special prayers and sacrifices for our current and future priests. Some groups and individuals take Thursdays as the day devoted to prayers for priests. It is through their courage that the Church will be renewed, and to do this, they need spiritual mothers. They need you and me.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009 ~ The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).

Mark 1: 7-11

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”


It is in the Sacrament of Baptism that (most of) our parents renounced satan on our behalf for the first time. How do we live out our baptismal promises? Do we renounce satan daily? Do we pray for the strength to overcome temptation?

I am deeply saddened to think of the number of Baptized Catholics who are not trying to live out their baptismal promises, who have stained the purity of their Baptism and have not sought forgiveness for these sins for whatever reason. We all have family members, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances who have walked away from their Baptism and turned their backs on God through sin.

Sin separates us from God and allows the power of the evil one to enter our lives, but God sent Jesus, His Son, to save us in our Baptism and through the Cross. Our daily living of our baptismal promises should banish sin from our lives over and over again. We seek forgiveness, but we will fall again, probably in the same way. Only by turning back to God repeatedly will we train our wills to the good and become holy. All of us can make the choice to resist satan and try again, and each time we make that choice is pleasing to our Lord!

The power of the Cross is tremendous to bring us healing and strength to overcome future temptation! Turn to the Cross. Whatever suffering small or great there is in your life, bring it to the foot of the Cross. Surrender it to Jesus. Offer that pain to God for your past sins, your future sins, and the sins of others, perhaps for the sins of priests who are so viciously attacked by satan because of their role in preparing the way of the Lord like John the Baptist. Consider imposing some small self-mortification, as well, and offer that for the violations of the promises of Baptism in us all.

None of us is worthy of the repeated forgiveness God grants to us, but His mercy is so profound that He will forgive us over and over again if we appeal to Him with a sincere heart and a desire to change. The Sacrament of Reconciliation can help with this, as can a simple morning offering and evening examination of conscience. When Jesus was baptized, He knew all that would happen to Him, all He would suffer, and all of our sins He would expiate. And in the Jordan River, He made a public statement that He would conquer Satan, that only His divine life and tragic death could destroy the power of evil. See Him on the Cross; He waits there for all sinners, for you and for me, to wash us clean again in His Sacred Blood.