This Lent is going to be a particularly special time of preparation for one little boy in our family. Crash will be receiving his First Holy Communion during the Easter season and we are all getting very excited. I have begun some material preparations and have to share a couple favorites on the gift list.
When I was looking for a Rosary to recommend to Grandma (she loves to give the children First Communion Rosaries) I became discouraged when I noticed the high price tags and low quality. Now, Grandma is no scrooge and will not skimp for this occasion but I just know that Crash will make short work of any flimsy chain links. "I was just using it!"
Enter Gardens of Grace
. If you are crafty in any way, you've got to take a peek at these reproduction vintage medals and Rosary parts. Gorgeous and affordable. Here is a completed Rosary (photo from the Gardens of Grace site) using the parts they sell:
I had an incredibly difficult time narrowing my purchase selections. I love the sterling silver but went with the antique bronze because it's less expensive and has a nice masculine look.
By the time I finish Crash's Rosary, I will have spent about the same or less money than the ones I was looking at in the store and it will definitely be sturdier since I'm going to use jewelry wire (see photo above) instead of chain. I'll post a photo in the Spring:).
I know my husband and I tend to be a little particular in these matters but it is our opinion that most First Communion prayer books are often a little...um...fluffy. Pretty on the outside but limited in their usefulness long term. The Catholic Young Man's Guide by Father Lasance
does not fall into that category. This prayer book originally received it's imprimatur from Pope Pius XI in 1927. The current edition is a photographic reproduction of a later edition. It's not marketed to First Communicants because it requires strong reading skills and a good grasp of language. It is not "easy" to read and a young child will likely use the devotions exclusively until a time when he discovers the rest less challenging. But I have observed that the time does indeed come even earlier than I thought it would. This prayer book (and it's companion, The Catholic Girls Guide) are also nice for adult use. I have been known to borrow my daughter's:).
Why we love it...
This is not only a very complete prayer book with devotions for every day, devotions for Mass and Communion, Stations of the Cross, Litanies and a thorough examination of conscience, but it also holds gems of wisdom for young men growing in faith.
Part 1 covers "The Panoply of War" which describes the virtues within a very masculine context.
Part 2 called "Conflict and Conquest" describes struggles of being a boy or a man and how to conquer them
Part 3 covers manly manners
Part 4 explains vocations for men
Completing this wonderful missal is A Rule of Life for young men.
The Catholic Girl's Guide is equally wonderful as it leads young ladies through a study of "The Maiden's Wreath" (Virtues), "A Wreath of Lilies" (Purity), "At the Parting of the Ways" (Vocation discernment), "Family Life", and a "Rule of Life".
My 10-year old daughter uses hers faithfully and also forgets it at church about once every two weeks. My 12-year old son also used his often until it "got lost". This prayer book would definitely be enhanced by a strong chain with which to hang it around the neck!
***A word about age-appropriate examinations of conscience...
It is a shame that our culture has lost it's sensitivity regarding use of language when dealing with the commandments that touch on purity. There are ways to talk about these subjects that do not put the details of impurity up in neon lights; ways to discuss and instruct that will not upset a child too young to be presented with it and still be clearly understood by those "of age".
The examination of conscience in these prayer books does deal plainly with the 6th and 9th Commandments but in a way that would not prematurely inform a First Communicant. Example:
3. Have I dressed immodestly or with excessive finery simply to attract admiration?
4. Have I sinned through undue familiarity with persons of the other sex, or allowing improper liberties to be taken with me?
That's as plain as it gets in these particular examens.