Sowing the Seeds of Faith
I consider it a great blessing and privilege to be an early childhood educator in a Catholic school board. Furthermore, being a supply educator, I have the fortune of going to different schools. A permanent fixture in my ‘school kit’ is the rosary – a huge one, which was gifted to me by a friend and the leader of a Rosary Apostolate group that I belonged to. The mission of this group is to teach the Rosary to students in Catholic schools in the areas that they serve. My friend died young, three years ago; however, her memory still lives on in my mind and her indefatigable zeal to introduce God to the children through the Rosary inspires me even to this date.
Many of these children have no familiarity with God or our Blessed Mother other than the spiritual nourishment that they receive at school. Hence, I find it a privilege that I can be a messenger of God’s word and a vessel of His presence to these little ones that Jesus loves very much, as indicated by His words in Matthew 19:14: “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
There is always a time in the classrooms when I have to take over on a solo basis and do an activity with them. At times like this, I take out my rosary to introduce it to the children. Not once has it failed to evoke amazement and wonder in them.
I can say with confidence that there has to be an element of the indescribable in this prayer – no human reason, logic or words can articulate the mystical power of this prayer. Perhaps its divine origin – it was given to St. Dominic by our Blessed Mother Mary – best explains its power to transform minds, hearts and souls, and lead them to the path towards God. In fact, even children, who find it difficult to sit still or focus their attention, settle down without a protest during this time.
As an educator, I am cognizant that the attention span of kindergarten children is limited; hence, I tailor my teaching to the needs of individual classes. When they see the rosary for the first time, and when asked what it is, they conjecture that it is a necklace. I clarify that it is a holy object used to pray and think about the events in the life of Lord Jesus or even more simply put, ‘the stories in the life of Lord Jesus’.
I begin by asking if they know what the prayer is called. Often, there is at least one child who knows that it is called the Rosary. Then I begin to explain to them the main prayers of the Rosary. Most schools in the school board that I work for pray the ‘Our Father’ prayer in the morning; as a result, the children are conversant with it. I also draw their attention to the crucifix on the rosary and highlight the difference between a cross and a crucifix. Again, every classroom has a crucifix in the classroom; therefore, children are familiar with it.
Next, I teach them the Hail Mary prayer and explain its origin to them. Interestingly, whenever I ask the children if they have ever prayed the Rosary or seen anyone praying it, many times, children say, “I see my grandma praying the Rosary.” The faith of our elders is an invaluable treasure that should be harnessed to strengthen the spiritual development of children.
Another miraculous aspect which I observe is that whenever I pray the Rosary, a peace settles in the atmosphere. This proves that we are wired to pray and as St. Augustine rightly said, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”
Additionally, the prayer sessions generate discussions and questions about Lord Jesus, the Holy Trinity, Mother Mary and other faith-based matters. I try and answer any questions in ways that they can understand and make sense of it. I am always awed by how easy it is for them to believe without any doubts. For instance, their certitude when they say that Jesus died on the cross for us and that He loves us is astounding. They do not rationalize; they do not doubt; they believe what they have not seen – the highest form of faith is exhibited by these little children. No wonder then that our Lord said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
I am blessed to sow the seeds of faith in these young children and I thank God for this grace. I hope and pray that someday these seeds may bear fruit a thousandfold in the lives of these children.
Mitha DeCunha is a grateful wife and a mother of two living in Milton, Ontario. Apart from this, she works as an early childhood educator in a Catholic school board. Motherhood, she believes, is a vocation, a blessing and a journey. In this journey, she draws inspiration from Mother Mary. Mitha is present to her children fully and lovingly in their joy and sorrow, suffering and success.