Toddler Prayers and Prayer Books

Bella now says “Amen” at the end of prayers and regularly (though not always) folds her hands during the blessing before meals. Or at least during the first part, discipline often breaks down and she reaches for food before we get to the end of the prayer.

She has started to make some attempts to make the sign of the cross on her own. She either gets the horizontal movement or she manages to touch her forehead and belly. She frequently touches her chest and says “Son” (or is it “sign”?).

I see her moving her lips and listening intently during prayers. She’s trying to get the words down. She refers to the Hail Mary as “Grace” and can fill in the blank when I drop a word in the first lines. If I say “Hail” she says “full of grace”. I say “The Lord is” she replies “with you” and then says “Blessed”. She repeats the words “fruit” and “womb” after I say them.

Dom has now taken over putting Bella to bed after bedtime prayers since I can’t yet lift her into her crib. He says that most nights she wants prayers now rather than stories. She says “grace” to request a prayer. We have a prayer book that was given to us that neither Dom nor I like much. It’s a Protestant prayer book, mostly treacly poems with “Amen” thrown on at the end. But Bella loves it. So Dom’s started flipping the pages while reciting Catholic prayers he wants Bella to learn. He says the Hail Mary in English, French and Latin, the Magnificat, the Memorare, Hail Holy Queen, Our Father, Glory Be, etc. He later found a book about Mary that he “reads” in the same way. It’s become Bella’s usual nightly request. At least for this week.

That’s only a temporary solution, though. What we’d really like is a nice Catholic prayer book with beautiful Catholic art. I haven’t seen anything in the stores or online that’s exactly what I’m looking for. However, I think we have the answer: we’re going to make our own prayer book, using pictures downloaded from the web and free book editing software,  Book Smart from Blurb.com

We spent Saturday afternoon putting together the prayers and trawling the net looking for good art in a usable format. I’m quite proud of the result and wish I had a way to share it. Dom has done a great job with the layout and design. it isn’t cheap; but it isn’t really any more than I’d be willing to spend if I found this same book in the store. And this book is titled The Bettinelli Family Prayer Book , dedicated to our children, has hand-picked content, and even includes a photo of us from our honeymoon on the copyright page.  What an age we live in when you can design and print your own book from the comfort of your own living room!

Prayers included: The Apostles’ Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be (we did these three most common prayers in both English and Latin), Hail Holy Queen, Memorare, Act of Contrition, Anima Christi, Angelus, Magnificat, Psalm 23, St Michael Prayer, Alma Redemptoris Mater, Divine Praises, Act of Faith, Act of Hope, Act of Love.

Pictures included works by Raphael, Durer, Botticelli, Dali, Rublev, Rembrandt, Fra Angelico, Millet, George de la Tour, Giotto, as well as mosaic, icons, and manuscript illuminations by unknown artists.

I’ll be sure to write about it’s reception when we finally get it printed and start reading it with Bella. I am sure it will be a treasured family keepsake for years to come.

cross posted at First heralds

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