- beginning the day with a family morning offering
- ending the day with a family act of contrition
- serving a special meal and dessert for Baptism days and lighting the kids' Baptismal candles at dinner time.
- making a special meal and dessert for namesake days, aka celebrating the feast days of the saints we are named for.
- taking note of one or two special feast days in each month and doing something special to recognize them, be it a special kind of food, a craft, or even placing a holy car in a place of honor.
Really, I could handle this. I could do this. But except for the daily family morning offering, I don't.
I thought it would become easier as my children grew older but now that I officially have a seven year old and my baby is almost two, well, I feel even further from this goal than I was when I was knee-deep in babes.
And let me tell you something:
It doesn't feel like an epic fail at all. It doesn't even feel like a little failure. It just feels like life being lived.
Do you know how good that feels? To have gotten to a place where I can just let go and be okay with where we are?
It feels so good. It feels freeing. It feels like how God wants it to be.
Let me tell you something funny:
I haven't celebrated a feast day since St. Patrick's Day, which was more of a cultural thing in our home anyways so really it was probably Advent. But on the last day of April I thought, "May is the month of Mary. I should re-decorate a bit so the house shows that while it's still the Season of Easter it is also the month of Mary."
And so on May 1st I felt happy that I had thought ahead and gotten things lined up, until I got online and saw Kaitlin's home altar with it's statues of St. Joseph and all the play tools her kids had brought to honor St. Joseph the Worker and how Lisa was making St. Joseph May Day baskets. Such good ideas- both of them!
I had to laugh.
Here it was my son's namesake day and the day I usually honor my husband and instead I had completely overlooked it.
Oh well. The great thing is that there's always another chance to pick up and try again, right?
May is super busy with end of school things, Travis' coaching schedule and masters' projects, birthdays, speaking gigs, Mother's Day, seasonal allergy stuff that won't go away, and more. I'm going to just focus on Mary, the rest of Easter, and Pentecost for this month. Next month we can begin the Act of Contrition and sitting down with a calendar to plan meals and special days a bit better. June has two baptisms to celebrate... (root me on, will you?)
Also, here's one more goal that I have but it's so foreign to me that I just don't really know what it should look like and how it should work. If you have any experience with such things I'd love to hear your thoughts - blog it or leave it in the combox, please. That last goal: to have 10-15 minutes of quiet, prayer time where my kids are praying / reading their age-appropriate Bibles and so am I. Anyone have any ideas about this?
Whatever happens with all this I hope I don't stress. I've stressed enough in my life and that's not what living out our Christian faith should be. It should be joyful; it should be freeing.
Christ didn't come so we would have busy schedules. He came to set us free.
"Rejoice and be glad for the Lord has truly risen."
Bloglovin' -- Feedly -- Instagram -- Pinterest -- Facebook
Probably start small and aim for just a few minutes at a time and work up gradually? I have a kiddo who works completely differently than everyone else's kiddo so it's what I'd do if mine was neurotypical.ReplyDelete
I love this! No need to feel anxiety about the million things we haven't done. Just look at what we have! And find joy in the love that comes from God. Love it. <3ReplyDelete
It seems like the ways most families celebrate feast days just don't work for mine: make a special dessert - we don't eat dessert; make a special meal - we only have about 5 meals in rotation because of diet restrictions; read a picture book about the saint - our local libraries don't have any of the saint books we'd need and we can't afford to buy any; do a craft - Lucia loves making up her own crafts but will not follow directions to make a preplanned craft, she won't even color on the saint coloring sheets I print out, etc. etc. etc. And it's completely fine with me. It's just not something our family does right now. Maybe we will someday when Lucia is older and cares, but it's really not something that appeals to me or my talents or temperaments and David could care less so I put my energy into other things.ReplyDelete
The food thing is true here, too. With all of James' allergies I usually can't make the dishes suggested at Catholic Cuisine (though I wish I could). At this point I just pass out popcicles and say "YAY! It's a Saint Day!" :)Delete
We went through the drive thru at DQ for the feast of St. Joseph last Friday. Elizabeth loved it! No tie-in that I am aware of...I mean a connection to St. Joseph and ice cream. Lol! We then went to a playground and enjoyed our treats. To me, celebrating the feast day is an emphasis on celebrating as in doing something out of the ordinary (no matter how small it is). And as you talk about here, that will look different to each family. Great post Bonnie!Delete
I always get these grand plans in my head for feast day celebrations and such. Most of the time, it doesn't work out the way I want it to. I think I need to work on worrying about it less, like you. Wonderful :)ReplyDelete
I really appreciate this. At this point, we move through lent and advent as a family- we do night prayers, and if I remember, I say a special, 'happy feast day' on the kids feast days. In the blogging world, this can be a challenge because it can be tempting to feel inadequate in how we live our domestic church, but at this point, it's all I can do :) I wonder if God will call me to do more- but for now, it's how we are livin'ReplyDelete
Yes. Perfect. Thanks for sharing this. Celebrating feast days with great aplomb does not guarantee that my children will someday be in heaven (that's what I always tell myself when I miss the same goals you set for your family). One thing that has been very fruitful for our family is to do an abbreviated examen every night (*ahem* some nights) with our four boys 4-8. First, I ask them to think of and share something they are thankful for, then one important incident from their day and how they think Jesus was speaking to them (these responses can bring tears to my eyes) and then, quietly, in their hearts, tell Jesus they are sorry for their sins. One of the most valuable parts of this is that they can see how my husband and I encounter Jesus during our day. Not sure if this is helpful! Thanks, as always, for your thoughts!!ReplyDelete
Well I'm glad it made you laugh and not feel guilty. It was seriously one of those "Oh It's St. Joseph the Worker today? Well these tools are lying all over the house and our icon is already sitting on the alter......" but of course it looks perfectly planned and executed once it's up on Instagram. I have no advice for the 10 minutes of quiet prayer, I JUST started doing 30 seconds of quiet during our (very short) morning prayer. So I have a ways to go. But, like you, I'm trying not to stress. We're all doing our best. Thanks for writing this Bonnie!ReplyDelete
Yeah, it's not even about the prayer it's about reading the Bible. I want my kids to know and love Scripture but I do absolutely nothing to encourage it. I feel like this would be a good thing to do, and I know I've heard Protestants talk about similar things but I can't remember who it was to even ask for more details.Delete
Bonnie have you seen the Catholic Scripture memory cards over at Catholic Icing? I am thinking about starting that with Elizabeth this summer. They look so cool and she is enamored right now with all things flash cards. I think they are boring (the flash cards I picked up in the dollar bin at Target), but she loves them and flips through them multiple times a day. I am thinking if she is going to want to do that, I might as well make up something like she has over at Catholic Icing. Even if she is just looking at the pictures (as she can't read...she is 3), it will be something fun to build on over time. Here is the link: http://www.catholicicing.com/scripture-memory-cards-for-catholics-printable/Delete
Ugh...some how my first comment got deleted, but hopefully you got in on your end Bonnie. Just wanted to put this other link I just found on that same Catholic Icing site. This one looks really cool - ABC Scripture Memory verses.Delete
I think you're doing a great job, Bonnie. I love your breath of fresh air in the Catholic Mom blogging world. On the one hand, there's such a wealth of good ideas on the internet for living the liturgical year with your family, but on the other hand, doing all these things doesn't equal doing a better job. And thank goodness! Because I'm not very good at doing all the things. Better to do fewer things, or even one thing well than do many things and be frazzled about it, that's my philosophy. :)ReplyDelete
We pray the rosary (either on a cd or out loud) in the car when we have a 15-20 minute drive. I know it's not exactly what you're aiming for because you want to be reading the Bible, but it's actually been so great because the kids don't fight (hopefully all kids fight in the car like mine?) and we are doing something productive for our spiritual life. Otherwise, I am also too busy with life to celebrate many feast days, and that's ok :)ReplyDelete
I cannot do the rosary in the car - it lulls me to sleep! I don't know what my problem is but it's the most peaceful thing and so my eyelids get so heavy. #notsafeDelete
My kids are 3 and 1.5x2 (twins). My 10-15 minutes of quiet prayer time each day is when the twins are already in bed, and my husband is reading bedtime stories to the toddler. But that's just me ... not my kids. So probably not super helpful for you!ReplyDelete
Reading this post made me chuckle. I converted in 2007 so feast days, name days, etc. were all foreign to me until I started reading Catholic mom blogs. I started to worry that I wasn't being Catholic enough and that my kids were going to suffer and lose their faith. But then I looked at my husband who was raised Catholic by very Catholic parents and they never once celebrated any special feast days or name days, etc. However, my mother-in-law insisted that they go to church every Sunday unless someone was ill (vacations, holidays, Boys Scout trips, etc. did not matter - find a church where you are and go.) And she encouraged them to pray every morning and every evening. And she herself was always praying the rosary. I love to see my 48 year old husband on his knees by his bed first thing in the morning and at the end of every day. And I love it when I walk in on him with his rosary beads praying and I love knowing that no matter where we are, we will ALL be going to Mass. And once I realized that attending Mass and praying regularly were what we were modeling to our kids, I eased off on the mom guilt about not celebrating feast days or wearing liturgically appropriately colored clothes to Mass or having a home decorated to match the latest feast. And it was so freeing. I still enjoy reading everyone's posts on how they celebrate, and maybe one of these days I'll get in on it, but I doubt it and I'm okay with it. As for how we pray....I pray with my kids every morning at breakfast and read a devotional to them while they are eating. My son has actually started reading his Bible at night before bed. He is doing this on his own so I'm not sure how far he's gotten or how much he's stuck with it. As for myself, I get up before everyone else, read the daily Mass readings, the Blessed Is She devotional and then spend time in prayer for my family.ReplyDelete
I love your idea of doing the morning offering together as a family. I meant to start that once, but it didn't really get off the ground. I think we'll try again- it's so important to remember that everything we do in the day is then dedicated to Jesus...even if we don't do anything else liturgically appropriate. :-)ReplyDelete
I don't know if this idea would work for your family but this is what is working for us. I started doing, what we now call, "Breakfast with the Bible". I mean everyone has to eat breakfast (or if you are like me, skip breakfast and go straight for the coffee), right? So I purchased the New Catholic Picture Bible from CHC (here's a link if you want to check it out: https://www.chcweb.com/catalog/ByGradeLevel/FirstGrade/NewCatholicPictureBible/product_info.html). It's the PERFECT bible for our family. It consists of 74 bible stories (following the Old Testament through the New Testament) which are one page in length and accompanied by a beautiful illustration. The stories are family friendly and written from the catholic perspective. I can literally read the stories in 5 mins and still feed the baby. As a family we focus on one story each week (I literally started at the creation story and am working my way through). We do a few other things throughout the week in addition to read the story but I won't bore you with all that here. Anyway, maybe this bible could be a good version for your family to check out. I don't know. But just thought I'd share. God bless.ReplyDelete
Bonnie this is great stuff!!! So applicable whatever stage in life folks are in. I really liked when you wrote: "Christ didn't come so we would have busy schedules. He came to set us free." SUCH a good reminder of that!!!ReplyDelete
For a long time I thought it had to be books and couldn't figure out why it wasn't working. Whether they were looking through a children's Bible, Fr. Lovasik books, or picture books of Bible stories, it didn't seem like they were entering into the spirit of prayerfulness (or maybe just stillness and quietness) that I was hoping for. We couldn't even manage 5 minutes of it, even though they love books. Enter Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. The kids, and I, have gained so much wisdom from it in only one year! At the beginning of the year, the emphasis was on body control - moving slowly and carefully, speaking softly or not at all - in order to be more aware of the presence of God and be able to listen to Him in your heart. As the year progressed, the children were introduced to various "works," some of which model the liturgical season or stories from Scripture, while others are practical life skills like pouring, drawing, sorting, etc. The point of the works is not so much that they gain a skill but that they give the child an opportunity to quiet their mind and body in order to allow God in (they also master the skills because they are age appropriate, but that is going more into the Montessori aspect of it). Now, this might sound really strange to people who haven't experienced CGS or Montessori type work, so I will give you practical advice now. :) Set up a small prayer area for each child. They need their own space for this to work. You can use a small rug from the dollar store for each child to sit on if you want. Put a book or two there, but also put a piece of drawing paper and a few colored pencils, some religious art/sacramentals, and most importantly I would say, some other type of activity that in itself may not seem religious. Lacing cards, a small sensory bin, etc. Don't overwhelm the child with too many choices. Less is more for a spirit of prayer and contemplation. Share a family Bible story first, or the life of a saint or something else important that you want them to have time to reflect on. Then start with 5 min of time to work. It's not time to play, and I wouldn't even call it time to pray, though if they ask what to do, you could suggest it (especially to Lydia and Bennet, because this new type of quiet time might seem strange to them - and of course, looking through the one or two books available to each of them is also entirely appropriate). The boys have set up their own "Atrium" space at our house on a bookshelf. They go there when they want a quiet activity to do alone. Maybe they are praying, maybe they aren't, but the practice of silence is important, to children and adults! PS- I might have some of the wording and theory wrong, but this is my impression after observing it over the past year. This summer I am starting the training for it, so I will be able to explain in more detail after that. :)ReplyDelete
I could say so much! Mostly about me having the same revelation about the month of April; but right now, I'll just say I'm very cheered by the beautiful blue stars and lettering on the surface beneath your bookcase. :)ReplyDelete
I can relate! So many good intentions for my family's spiritual life; so few realized ....ReplyDelete
Re. morning prayer: I have come to discover something I call "prayer by stealth." When the kid are having breakfast and I'm getting dressed, I sneak a cup of coffee back to the bedroom with me and sit at my prayer desk and do the readings for the day. They think I'm getting dressed -- which I am, eventually -- and so they don't try to come in. It works!