This prayer shows that we have to open ourselves to God, using all of our senses, in order to let his light shine in us.
Before class, carve a pumpkin and keep the pieces intact. Cut eyes, ears, mouth, nose and cut a circle around the stem. Remove the seeds and pumpkin gunk, put it in a plastic bag and return it to the inside of the pumpkin. Put the eyes, ears, nose and mouth back in the cut-out holes and replace the lid. Have a candle and long-stemmed lighter ready.
Gather the children around the pumpkin and pray this prayer:
Lord, open my mind so I can learn new things about you and the world you created. (Remove the top of the pumpkin.)
Remove the things in my life that don’t please you. Forgive the wrong things I do and help me to forgive others. (Pull out the bag of seeds.)
Open my eyes to see the beauty you’ve made in the world around me. (Remove the eyes.)
Open my ears when I hear your word, so I may learn how you want me to live.(Remove the ears.)
I’m sorry for the times I’ve turned up my nose at people who are different from me, but who are your children, too. (Remove the nose.)
Let everything I say please you. (Remove the mouth.)
Lord, help me show your light to others through the things I do. (Place a candle inside and light it.)
The Story of the Three Pumpkins
This story illustrates that in order for us to live like the saints did, we need to let God change us so that His light can shine through us.
Before class, get three pumpkins, similar in shape and size. Leave the first one plain.
On the second one, draw with black marker a jack-o-lantern face. The third one you will carve eyes, ears, a nose, a mouth and a lid on top. Have a candle and long-stemmed lighter ready.
Gather the children together and read this story:
Once there were three little pumpkins (point to them). The first pumpkin (point to the pumpkin without a face) said, “I want to remain just as I am. I never want to change.”
The second pumpkin (point to the pumpkin with a drawn-on face) said, “I want to be a jack-o-lantern, but I don’t want to let go of what I already have. I want to change but I’m afraid to let anyone carve eyes, nose and a mouth out of my shell. So I won’t change either.”
The third pumpkin (point to the carved pumpkin) said, “I want to shine like the sun and in order to let the light come out of me, I need to lose part of myself. I need to change. Open my eyes, ears, nose and mouth and put a lit candle inside me.(Take the lid, set a lighted candle inside and take out the eyes, ears, nose and mouth.
The pumpkin wanted to become a jack-o-lantern, even at the cost of losing some of itself. And so, the light shone out of its eyes, ears, nose and mouth. The light of the third pumpkin, together with the light of all the other jack-o-lanterns, made the night become brighter than day. And darkness went away forever.
Litany for Loading School Backpacks As the child places each item in the bag, pray the following:
Crayons Parent: Help us, God, to brighten the day for others at school by our kind words and cheerfulness. Children: Lord, hear our prayer.
Pencils Parent: Help us, God, to write straight with crooked lines by trying to find the good in things that seem hard like homework. Children: Lord, hear our prayer.
Erasers Parent: Help us, God, not to be discouraged by mistakes but to learn from them. Children: Lord, hear our prayer.
Ruler Parent: Help us, God, and bless our efforts to measure up to the tasks we’re given and to achieve our goals. Children: Lord, hear our prayer.
Paper Parent: Help us, God. Send us your Holy Spirit to fill up these papers with creative ideas, clear thinking, and careful work. Children: Lord, hear our prayer.
Kleenex Parent: Help us, God, to stay well this year by eating right, exercising, and practicing good health habits. Children: Lord, hear our prayer.
Folders Parent: Help us God, to be organized, to write down our assignments, to remember all the things that are important in school. Children: Lord, hear our prayer.
Glue Parent: Help us, God, to stick to our parents’ rules for us, to stick by our friends especially when they need us, and to stick close to you, our best Friend. Children: Lord, hear our prayer. Amen.
Prayer for the First Day of School Great and wonderful God, we praise you for the start of a new school year. We thank you for the excitement of the first day, for the new friends we will make, and for the opportunity to learn. We thank you for our new school supplies, the fun we will have, and all the knowledge we will gain. Please bless our teachers, our classmates, and each of us. Help us to bring happiness to others as we go about our school day and to return home at the end of the day with grateful hearts. Amen.