Today is the traditional feast ((tomorrow the new) of Sts Perpetua and Felicity,
early martyrs of the Church in Carthage.
These two heroic young women, both mothers, were put to death in the arena for their belief in Christ and refusal to pay homage to the Emperor. Perpetua,a Roman noble and Felicity her slave, are two of my most favorite martyrs. Curly Sue has Felicity has a middle name, so today I decided would be a special day to remember their courageous display of faith, and in the spirit of Lent, discuss suffering and sacrifice.
Almost 3 years ago, I came across a preview for an animated film on their matyrdom, released by Catholic Heroes of the Faith. In the few seconds of the preview I was brought to tears…. sobs actually! The animation is simple, but the intense story of faith, suffering and triumph coupled with a powerful soundtrack spurred me on to buy it then and there. However, when hubby and I watched the DVD ourselves, we were so greatly moved that it was put to one side until the children were a little older (6, 4, 2 at that stage).
So today was the day that the long awaited DVD was brought out 🙂
What is brilliant about this production from Catholic Heroes of the Faith, is that it contains on the DVD an entire series of well planned out lessons and activities to go along with the movie.
This morning we read about Jesus telling His disciples to go out and spread the good news to all nations. This was illustrated by a big ball of plain, uncoloured playdough symbolising the earth. A hole for Jesus was poked in the ball and 4 big drops of red food colouring were added. We discussed how only a few people knew about the good news at the time of Jesus’ ressurection. I gently squeezed the “earth” and the food colouring started to spread. The instant reaction from the kids showed they understood the point of the exercise! We placed the playdough “earth” inside a clear snaplock bag (to keep their fingers clean from red colouring!) and they all had a turn “spreading the good news”. We then had a discussion about the red food colouring. Why red? I loved how they immediately talked about the blood of Jesus and it lead beautifully into a discussion about martyrdom and the power of the blood of the martyrs (we followed this by reading the account of Stephen’s martyrdom in the book of Acts).
The next exercise from the DVD was a series of sheets teaching them about the early christians and their need for secrecy. They were introduced to IXTHUS, the sign of the fish and the word “Catechumen”.
The much anticipated DVD had us ALL in tears and the mood afterwards was quite sombre. I gave them all cuddles and reiterated that the ending was actually happy, as they had achieved sainthood and eternal life in Heaven. Some sunshine and fresh air was needed and then they quietly chose one of the 4 colouring sheets provided on the DVD (the girls chose the saints rising to heaven with the angels, while Master Luke chose the martyrdom scene!). This quiet time with peaceful music playing helped them process a little more and Sunshine afterwards came to me and said “Mum. I don’t feel discouraged by that story…. in fact I feel really inspired to be more like them and to be brave and to be a Saint!!!”. I think it will take a lot more gentle discussions and time to let it all sink in, but WOW what a way to celebrate their feast! 🙂
Here is the link to the Catholic Heroes of the Faith site. There is a preview for the movie on there and I thoroughly recommend checking it out!
Hope your Lent has started with a whoosh and a roar :)….. now to ask God for the grace to continue!!!!