Weekly Activities

Early Church history and tradition teaches that each day of the week has a theme which can help us to celebrate ordinary time. Click on a day to see all the activities you could choose to celebrate!

  • Monday: Honor the Holy Angels
  • Thursday: Reverence the Holy Eucharist
  • Friday: Meditate on Christ’s Passion and Death

 

Sunday

This day of rest is seen by the Church as an echo of Easter. A day to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and to renew our own baptismal vows for the coming week, Sunday is a feast day. We should celebrate with festive meals in honor of Christ and His resurrection. It should be day the family spends together, enriching the body, mind, and soul of each family member.

 

 

On Sunday:   

Prepare First. Spend Saturday evening cleaning, laying out Sunday clothes, preparing food, planning.

  1. Go to Mass as a family.
  2. Designate certain music to listen to or sing that praises God.
  3. Designate special toys to play with only on Sunday.
  4. Brainstorm activities that are family favorites: biking, cooking, movies, games, etc. Choose one each week.
  5. Cook a special dessert or recipe — set aside budget restrictions or nutrition for that day — FEAST!

Have a family meeting.  Schedule one day a month to meet as a family to discuss issues and share thoughts on your relationships as family. This is a good way to get children to talk about difficulties at an early age. Airing differences can be done in a controlled environment with adult guidance. Make sure that good things are discussed at family meetings also, such as vacations, major purchases, great achievements, etc.

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Family Activity Box

The Lord’s day should be celebrated as a family. Make a family activity box, using  small pieces of paper in Easter shapes, an empty can or jar, and leftover Easter decorations.

 

Each member contributes a few reasonable activities for the family. They are written on separate pieces of paper cut in Easter shapes (a lamb, a lily or an egg [as a reminder of the resurrection]) with the word “alleluia” written across the top. These symbols can also be used to decorate the box. (Old Easter cards and decorations would work, also.) Each family member takes turns choosing an activity out of the box (eyes closed, of course!). Enjoyour day celebrating with the family!

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Flower Walk

You’ll need various vases; a field, park, or generous neighbors with flower gardens (make sure you ask before you pick); and a scrapbook of family memories.

Flowers are signs of new life and gifts from God. Take a walk with the family today and find as many different flowers as possible. Use them to decorate the house and dinner table for this day. Choose a few favorites at the end of the day to dry and flatten in a scrapbook. Make sure to write the date and any relevant comments about this mini-Easter from family members on scrapbook page. Mark family favorites.

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Read and Discuss

Read Exodus 20:8-11 and Catechism sections 1166-1167. Discuss how your family can rest on Sunday. What activities should you avoid? What activities might you add to your day of rest? To allow Mom to rest, the family might go out to eat, have meals of pre-made casseroles, or construct sandwiches buffet-style. Spend the afternoon sitting on the porch or in lawn chairs and chat about life and/or listen to classical music. Remember your family reading time (explained on the first Sunday in Lent).

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Grow Sprouts in an Eggshell

Supplies:

 

  • 1 empty eggshell (carefully break ¼ off the top)
  • 1 egg c. (or small napkin ring)
  • 1 damp cotton-ball
  • 1/8 tsp. alfalfa seeds
  • set of colored fine-tipped felt markers

Eggs are signs of new life that help remind us of the resurrection of our Lord and our share in his new life (CCC 654). While doing this activity, discuss the various ways we experience new life through the sacraments (CCC 1130).

Set the empty eggshell in the egg cup or napkin ring and gently draw a face. Children can do self-portraits or draw the face of a saint or angel. Place a damp cotton-ball inside the eggshell and sprinkle seeds over cotton. Keep the cotton damp and in two or three days, seeds will begin to sprout. Put in a sunny spot and watch it grow. It may eventually need a haircut and the clippings can be added to a salad or sandwich.

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Have a Bubble Party

Supplies

  • ¼ c. liquid dish-washing soap
  • 1 gallon water
  • large bucket
  • various unbreakable “bubble-makers”

Sunday is a day of prayer and worship. It is often hard for children (and adults!) to imagine that their prayers are being heard, but they are! To illustrate this fact, have a bubble party and explain to the children that the bubbles are like all of our prayers going up to heaven and when they pop (as they all will eventually) it is like God taking hold of that prayer and drawing it to His heart. Let them try to draw a bubble against their heart and see how it pops. Show them how some take a lot longer to pop than others.

Some dishwashing soaps work better than others; try what you have on hand. We recommend Dawn if you have to purchase some. To make the bubbles, you might use: the plastic holders from six-packs of soda pop; plastic coat hangers; straws; paper cups, etc. Try anything that a little soap and water can’t hurt; after all, our prayers and needs are as various as the “bubble makers.”

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“Sonday” Singalong

Today we celebrate the day the Son of God rose from the dead to conquer sin. What better way to celebrate than with song! You’ll need books and/or tapes with familiar religious music; a few musically inclined friends and family, with their instruments; joy.

Using all three ingredients in any combination that works, sing old favorites and learn at least one new favorite. What a way to celebrate the Son of God!

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Walk and Picnic

Maria von Trapp in her book Around the Year with the Trapp Family describes the joys of Sundays in the Austrian countryside. One particular memory is that of “a long, peaceful walk home from Sunday Mass.” After Mass, take a long walk as a family. If your neighborhood does not hold any great interest, find another neighborhood ora park or wilderness area within driving distance, and then walk! Take a picnic. Here’s a picnic recipe suggestion:

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Potato Salad


Ingredients

 

  • 10 small red potatoes
  • 3 purple onions
  • 3 bell peppers (red, green, yellow), cut into thin strips
  • 1 c. olive oil
  • 1/3 c. lemon juice or wine vinegar
  • 1-2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2tsp. dried or 4 tsp. fresh, chopped basil or dill
  • 2 c. fresh, chopped parsley, preferably Italian
  • optional: fresh basil leaves or sprigs of fresh dill weed

Wash the potatoes. Place in a pot of salted water (use just enough water to cover the potatoes) and boil until just tender when pierced with a fork: about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Combine potatoes with onions and peppers on serving platter.

Prepare the vinaigrette: Mix the olive oil thoroughly with the lemon juice. Add the mustard, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste, and the basil or dill. Pour over the potatoes and vegetables. Let marinate for several hours, stirring occasionally. A few minutes before serving, stir in the parsley. Adjust seasoning. Garnish with basil leaves or dill sprigs, if you wish. Yields: 10 to 12 servings

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Family Activity Box Activity

Choose an activity from the “Family Activity Box.” Then, for energy and good taste, make:

Sandy’s Healthy Cranberry Bread

Ingredients

  • 1½ c. unbleached flour
  • 1 c. fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • ½ c. whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ c. butter
  • 1 c. honey
  • 1 tbs. grated orange rind
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 c. chopped nuts

 

Stir dry ingredients together, then cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Combine honey, egg, and orange rind and pour into dry ingredients. Stir just to moisten, then carefully fold in nuts and berries. Pour into 9"x5" well-greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350° for one hour.

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Attend Mass

Go to Mass as a family, then spend the day in restful celebration of this feast. Watch home movies and look at old pictures, and reintroduce the children to relatives who have gone before them.

Remember your family reading time.

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Scripture Cake

Ingredients

  • 1½ c. (3 sticks) Psalm 55:21
  • 1 tsp., ½ tsp. 2 Chronicles 9:9 (cinnamon, nutmeg)
  • 2 c. Jeremiah 6:20
  • 2 c. 1 Samuel 30:12
  • 6 Jeremiah 17:11
  • 2 c. Numbers 13:23, chopped
  • ½ c. Judges 4:19
  • 1 c. Numbers 17:8, chopped or grated
  • 2 tbs. 1 Samuel 14:25
  • 4½ c. Leviticus 2:13
  • 2 tbs. Amos 4:5

 

Today, make Scripture Cake. Have the children look up the Scripture verses. This famous old New England favorite is not only yummy but helps us learn the Bible.

 Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour loaf pans or a bundt or tube pan. Cream the butter. Beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Stir in milk and honey. Sift in flour with the salt, baking powder, and dry spices. Add the dry ingredients gradually to the wet mix only until blended. Stir in the raisins, figs, and almonds. Put into pans. Bake about 50 minutes. Yields: one large or several small cakes.

Remember family reading and the saint for the day.

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Monday

Monday has been traditionally dedicated to honoring the Holy Angels. This would include guardian angels and archangels. Making mention of this at morning prayer and evening dinner would allow for fruitful spiritual discussion.

Recite Angel Prayers

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle;
be our defense against the wickedness
and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
And do you, O prince of heavenly host,
by the power of God
thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world
for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Guardian Angel Prayer

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

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Learn the Guardian Angel Prayer (above)

Remind children (and adults!) that their guardian angel is always at their side helping them to pray, to fight back when they are tempted, to warn them to steer clear of situations which will turn them away from God. Give your guardian angel a special gift by taking him to a church for some quiet time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

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Raphael the Archangel Place Mat

You’ll need light-colored construction paper; markers and/or crayons; and clear contact-paper (optional).

Read the book of Tobit (especially chapters 4 to 12). You can use a children’s Bible version, or have an adult or older child read and paraphrase the story. Try to read the words of Raphael in chapter 12. Discuss the role of the Angel Raphael. How did he help Tobias? What was his message to Tobias and his father? The symbols for Raphael are a pilgrim’s staff, a wallet, or a fish. Children can decorate a piece of paper with the symbols and/or what they think he looked like to Tobias to make a place mat. They can also add favorite verses from the story. When finished, the place mat can be covered with clear contact-paper and used at dinner.

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C&H Box (Charity and Humility)

Supplies:

  • Catholic dictionary
  • paper
  • crayons, markers, pencils
  • empty shoe-box with lid
  • foil or wrapping paper to cover box

Criticism is an activity that seems to come naturally to adults and children alike and creeps up most often among close friends and family. Fortunately for us, God sent our guardian angels to help us with just such problems. Charity and humility are the virtues that help combat criticism. Today would be a good day to come up with a plan to root out criticism and plant the virtues of charity and humility, with the help of our guardian angels.

Cover and decorate the box. Label it “C&H Box” and make sure everyone knows what that means. Look up charity and humility in the dictionary and brainstorm ways to practice these virtues. Write down the favorites and put into the box. At the end of the day, or early in the morning, choose one paper out of the box and put that action into practice all day. After a week or so, evaluate the family’s growth in virtue and add or take away ideas as needed.

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Angel on My Shoulder

You’ll need:

  • blank stickers or labels
  • glitter; and gold and/or silver crayons or markers.

Draw a picture of your guardian angel on a blank label (ask him to help you!). Decorate with glitter and cut out the white part around the edges so the shape of the sticker matches your picture. Wear your guardian angel on your collar or shirt-pocket and be open to explain to friends who he is and what he does.

Our guardian angels are special friends sent to us by God. They help us and protect us. Sometimes our friends here on earth can act like “guardian angels.”

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My Best Friends

You’ll need:

  • paper plates
  • crayons and/or markers
  • tape.

Each person thinks of one person not in the family who is a good friend, then shares the reasons why. Share a time when this friend was a helper or protector to you. Using the paper plates, make a likeness of the friend and hang it above the dinner table. Spend some time before or after the meal to pray for the person and thank God for the gift of such a friend.

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Sharing Vocations

The apostles answered the call to the first vocations in the Church. Your children will be called to one of three vocations: religious life, married life, or consecrated single life. Spend time today sharing your vocation with your children. Any one of the following ideas would be fun and educational:

 Spend the evening looking at wedding pictures and/or videos and discussing God’splan for marriage and what it means to you. You and your spouse could spend some time discussing or studying the subject beforehand.

  • Take one or more of the children to work for the day (or an hour). Show them around and introduce them to colleagues. This would be a good opportunity to practice manners when meeting adult strangers.
  • If a trip to work is not possible, bring a tape recorder or video camera and document a typical work day.
  • Let older children take on some more difficult household tasks for a day, in order to fully appreciate the vocation of parent and spouse.

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Praying and Talking to Your Guardian Angel

“Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life” — St. Basil.

Remind the family that our guardian angels are there always and say a special prayer today to your guardian angel. This week try to get in the habit of talking to your guardian angel. It is also an old custom to greet another’s guardian angel, silently, as you greet the person aloud. Learn the St. Michael the Archangel Prayer, found on page 70.

Discuss the great hero St. Michael and his battle with his brother-angel Lucifer, who refused to serve God and had to be thrown out of heaven into the abyss.

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Tuesday

The apostles are the focus on Tuesdays. This is an opportunity to get to know the men that our priests and bishops have followed. Their lives and personalities are revealed in the Gospels.

More to do:

  1. Read about the apostles. Skim the gospels for any reference.
  2. Memorize their names.
  3. Mark their feast days with a celebration.
  4. Choose one as an intercessor for your priests, pastor, and bishop, and pray often for them.

 

Act of Faith

The three theological virtues — faith, hope, and charity — are the foundation of Christian moral activity. They are infused by God into our souls making us capable of acting as children of God and meriting eternal life (see CCC1813). “Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us. . . .” (CCC 1814). Today would be a good day to learn the Act of Faith and pray it as a family. You might add it to your morning prayers for the week.

O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths that the holy Catholic Church teaches, because you have revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.

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Apostles Book

Supplies:

  • construction paper
  • tag-board or heavy poster-board (for the cover)
  • string and/or yarn
  • hole-punch
  • markers and/or crayons

Fold construction paper in half to make pages. Use six pieces for small pages and 12 for larger pages. Punch two or three holes along the folded edge, being careful to match the holes on all pages. Do the same for one piece of poster-board, cut to the size of your construction paper and folded in half to make a front and back cover.

Tie string in a bow through the holes. When book is assembled, you may begin writing and drawing the information on each apostle. Be sure to include a picture, famous writings (from the Bible), favorite stories in his life, and any other interesting facts. The best way to get the information would be from the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Read some favorite parts at the dinner table.

The Conversion of Saul
Acts 9:1-19

Using the book format above, make a book that tells the story of Saul’s conversion. Include his presence at the stoning of Stephen. Take this time to discuss conversion and what it means.

The Story of Cornelius, the Centurion
Acts 10:1-48

You’ll need a large piece of construction paper (old wrapping paper with one side that’s white will work, cut in a large rectangle about 11"x 17"); and markers and/or crayons.

Make a story-board by folding the paper in half matching the two longer sides, once. Open and fold in half matching the shorter sides, twice. This should result in two rows of four squares. Number them one through eight, starting in the top-left corner, so that numbers one through four are on top and five through eight on the bottom. Now choose the eight most important or interesting parts of the story and illustrate them. Captions can be added on the bottom, or conversation in bubbles (like in a comic book).

The apostles were called to be “fishers of men” and bring others to Christ by their word, example, and preaching. We share in that call! Today invite a friend over that may be in need of evangelizing. They could come for dinner and thus witness the family praying together, or play a game with the family and thus witness Christian charity. Or maybe you could rent a good Christian movie and watch and discuss it with them. Whatever you choose, it should be done humbly and with charity.

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Study Prudence

Prudence is right reason in action, says St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle. This moral virtue disposes practical reason to determine our true good in every circumstance and them choose the right means of achieving it (see CCC 1806).

This virtue is very difficult for young children, since it takes a certain degree of intellectual development. The most prudent thing a young child can choose to do is listen to his parents and other authoritative adults. However, as children get older they can begin to develop the virtue of prudence with a three-step plan: 1) Size up the situation. 2) Know the standards which should guide judgment (i.e., the Church’s teaching informing your conscience). 3) Make decisions in line with those judgments. Discuss this plan and practice it with your adolescent children.

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Writing Epistles

Some of the apostles were known to have written “epistles,” or letters, to the various communities in the early Church. They wrote to encourage, praise, and sometimes admonish their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The Second Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians is a good example. Note especially the greeting and closing. These letters to the early Christians were also written for us and contain the encouragement, praise, advice, and admonishment that we need.

Children can paraphrase the greeting and closing in a letter to a friend or relative that encourages the friend’s Christian love and actions. For example: 1 Peter 1:1 might read “Johnny, a disciple of Jesus Christ, to the elect who dwell at 23 Main Street, Wintersville, Ohio, chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the spirit of obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”

Parents can paraphrase the actual epistle so that it seems to speak directly to a child in need of support or direction. For example: 1 Peter 1:4 and the following verses can be simplified and to speak directly to a child with a seemingly heavy cross to bear.

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Secret Buddies Game

“Love of one’s neighbor is the only door out of the dungeon of self.”
— G.K. Chesterton

Talk about this quote. Play the “Secret Buddies Game”: Put each family member’s name (including parents) in a hat and let each person draw a name secretly. Spend the week playing “secret buddy” to that person. Try to do little things for your buddy, anonymously (i.e., carefully hide anonymous notes, compliments, and gifts; fix or clean something secretly).

At the end of the week you could give prize for “best deeds” and another for “best secrecy.”

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Wednesday

St. Joseph is honored on Wednesdays. He is patron of families and especially fathers. Great topics for discussion are fatherhood, being a hard worker, and knowing Jesus intimately. On Wednesdays you could:

Act of Hope

“Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit” (CCC 1817). Today, talk about hope and what a gift it is. Learn the prayer below and add it to your midday prayer time for the week.

O my God, relying on your almight power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon for my sins, the help of your grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.

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Dad’s Day

Dad cooks his favorite meal for the family. This could be anything from PB&J to filet mignon! Eldest son could lead prayer invoking St. Joseph for the intentions of the father.

St. Joseph was a carpenter. Dad could lead a woodworking project today, such as making a crucifix or a stable for next year’s nativity scene. This may mean spending some time in the library with some simple woodworking books (Woodworking for Kids by Kevin McGuire, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York, is a possibility), and could be spread over a couple of weeks. However, the emphasis should be on St. Joseph’s life and his role in Jesus’ life. So dads, keep it simple, and leave lots of time to talk in between hammering and sawing.

Things to do:

  1. Honor St. Joseph in prayer.
  2. Honor your father today in small way.
  3. Fathers work on projects with children, such as woodworking.
  4. Have lunch with Dad.
  5. Go to work with Dad.
  6. Pray for Dad daily.

 

Make a Crown for Dad

You’ll need:

 

  • construction paper;
  • lined paper (age appropriate for your children);
  • pencils, markers, and/or crayons
  • scissors
  • tape.

Make a crown and/or button out of construction paper and decorate with the words “We love Dad” or “Dad is great.” Each person (even Mom!) can draw a picture and/or write a letter stating why Dad is so great (younger children can dictate to older ones). Put these in a folder for Dad to read on lunch breaks at work or on business trips.

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Learn Temperance

Temperance moderates the attraction of pleasures and provides balance in the use of created goods. Practice temperance by limiting pleasurable foods and activities. This will help to ensure the will’s mastery over instincts and help to keep desires within the limits of what is honorable, which is very important for adolescents struggling with chastity (see CCC 1809).

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Discuss Obedience

“To live well is nothing other than to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s efforts; from this it comes about that love is kept whole and uncorrupted (through temperance). No misfortune can disturb it (and this is fortitude). It obeys only [God] (and this is justice), and is careful in discerning things, so as not to be surprised by deceit or trickery (and this is prudence)” — St. Augustine (De moribus eccl. 1, 25, 46: PL 32, 1330-1331).

St. Joseph was obedient to the words of God spoken through the angels. We must be obedient to God’s words spoken through His Church. Today would be a good day to discuss obedience and how children are obedient to their parents, as parents are obedient to God. How do we as parents act as an example of this? (Words to look up in the Catholic ncyclopedia: magisterium, pope, papal infallibility, conscience.) Read section 2197 and those following in the Catechism.

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Pray a St. Joseph Prayer

Glorious St. Joseph, spouse of the immaculate Virgin, Foster-father of Jesus Christ, obtain for me a pure, humble, and charitable mind, and perfect resignation to the Divine Will. Be my guide, my father, and my model through life that I may merit to die as you did in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Patron of families, patron of fathers, patron of the Universal Church: St. Joseph, pray for us (adapted from the “Novena in Honor of St. Joseph”).

Write the prayer in large letters on poster board and challenge the older children to memorize it. Come up with a small reward for those who do, such as a small St. Joseph medal, statue, or holy card.

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Family Tree Centerpiece

Supplies:

  • bare tree limb (spray-painted if you wish)
  • large, plastic margarine tub filled with plaster of Paris (from hardware store) or clay
  • decorative paper or tissue
  • ribbon
  • wooden or plastic loops (such as shower-curtain hooks)
  • scissors
  • glue or tape
  • snapshots of family members
  • holy cards of patron saints

St. Joseph is the patron of families. Today would be a good day to remind ourselves that our family is bigger than those who live in our house. It also includes those who have passed away (including infants and miscarried babies) and the communion of saints, especially our particular patrons.

Stick branches securely in wet plaster or clay, then wait for plaster to harden. Cover the container with bright paper and ribbon. Attach ribbon to the tops of the loops and glue or tape photos to the back of them. Hang the pictures on the Family Tree and use as a centerpiece at dinner. Can be used also on sacrament days and added to as often as you wish.

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Thursday

We focus on the Holy Eucharist on Thursdays. The Eucharist is at the center of our faith and should be the center of our lives. God allows His people to meet Him face-to-face in this sacrament. It is said that if one understands the Eucharist, all other truths will fall in line. Activities might include:

 

Food for Our Bodies — Food for Our Souls

You’ll need: a healthy dinner; poster-board; and markers and/or crayons.

Cook an especially healthy dinner. Explain to the children that these foods help our bodies to grow and to be healthy. After dinner make a chart on the poster board, with “Food for the Body” listed on one side and “Food for the Soul” listed on the other. Under the “Body” side write the things discussed at dinner, such as:

  • food makes us strong
  • helps us grow
  • can keep us healthy
  • keeps us alive.

On the other side list the ways in which the Holy Eucharist is nourishment for the soul. For example:

  • must have it to live God’s life
  • makes us strong to resist temptation
  • helps us become saints
  • helps us to do what is right. (Adapted from Faith and Life Series, Grade 2.)

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Learn the Act of Love

Charity (love) is the virtue by which we love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves. Through this virtue we do this for the love of God not our own gain. Today remember this virtue by treating all people with charity for the love of God. Learn the prayer and add it to your evening prayer time for this week.

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Act of Love

O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

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Attend Mass

If you can, attend Mass this day; if it is not possible, make an act of spiritual communion, such as this one attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:

“I believe that you, O Jesus, are in the most holy sacrament. I love you and desire you. Come into my heart. I embrace you. Oh, never leave me. May the burning and most sweet power of your love, O Lord Jesus Christ, I beseech you, absorb my mind that I may die through love of your love, who were graciously pleased to die through love of my love.”

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Spiritual Reading

Paul’s epistles (letters) to the Thessalonians were written to the new Christians in Thessalonica to answer questions that they had regarding Christ’s second coming and stressing the need to be spiritually vigilant.

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Write an Epistle

Moms and dads can write epistles to the children stressing their need to be spiritually vigilant. Personalize the letters so that specific household issues can be addressed, such as getting ready for bed on time so that prayer-time is not rushed.

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Spend Time with the Blessed Sacrament

Many saints drew their strength and endurance from hours of adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Spend some time in front of the Tabernacle or find a local church with Perpetual Adoration (the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar twenty-four hours a day for adoration). If a trip to church is not possible, set up a prayer corner for members of the family to spend quiet time in front of a picture or statue of our Lord.

This time should be spent telling Him you love Him and asking help to love Him better, but most importantly, it should be spent listening. Rules should be set to minimize distractions, such as no TV or stereo on in the room and only interruptions that are absolutely necessary. Don’t even answer the phone!

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Read the Acts

Read about the philosophers of Athens in Acts 17:16-34. Paul tells the philosophers that there is one God that created us and He does not inhabit any image of gold or silver or stone made by human hands. This might be a good time to check the children’s understanding of the various representations of Christ and the saints that they are familiar with. Make sure they understand that they are reminders of the figures they symbolize (see CCC 2110-2117). Make the distinction concerning the Eucharist. In this case, God Himself replaces the bread and wine, keeping only the appearance of these elements (see CCC 1373-1381).

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Make a Spiritual Communion

“Our Lord does not come from Heaven every day to stay in a golden ciborium. He comes to find another Heaven, the Heaven of our soul in which He loves to dwell” — St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

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Today, ask Jesus to dwell in the heaven of your soul.

Spiritual Communion: Say an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be three times each. Then say, “I wish, Lord , to receive you with the purity, humility, and devotion with which your most holy Mother received you, with the spirit and fervor of the saints.”

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God’s Temple

Jesus, present in the Eucharist, is kept in a tabernacle. When we receive the Eucharist, our bodies become His tabernacle in a very real way. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 that we are to always see ourselves as God’s holy temple. Discuss the obligation to God to keep His temple clean and healthy. Evaluate family hygiene, eating, and sleeping habits. Determine where can you improve. Set one family goal and make a chart to measure when and how it is reached.

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The Last Supper

Reread the story of the Last Supper, then bake unleavened bread using the ingredients.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1½ c. flour
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ c. butter
  • 1/3 c. warm water

 

Mix salt, flour, and egg. Add water, mix dough quickly with a knife, then knead on board, stretching it up and down to make it elastic until it leaves the board clean. Toss on a small, well-floured board. Cover with a hot bowl and keep warm ½-hour or longer. Then cut up into squares of desired size and bake in 350° oven until done.

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Review Unselfishness

Today is a good day to discuss unselfishness, or selflessness. Christ is the perfect example of selflessness when He gives His body and blood for our salvation. How can we be selfless? How can we learn to be more “extra-centered,” more concerned with others needs?

One activity to help teach this concept to small children is “Turns and Timers”:

Small children playing together will inevitably want the same toy at the same time. Take the time to sit down with them (over and over) and explain sharing. Help them notice how happy they make the other person when they share with him. Praise even feeble attempts to share.

On occasion use a timer (or an oven clock or alarm clock) that rings when one child’s turn is over and it is time to let the other child have his or her turn.

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Bedtime Chats

Continue practicing selflessness. Try “Bedtime Chats.” This is a good time to really listen to your children. Give them time to think and respond. Talk about selfishness and its ramifications. Help them to see where in their lives they have been selfish and where they have been unselfish. End with an act of contrition.

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Attend Mass as a Family

Talk about the time immediately following reception of the Eucharist. His presence is in you in that way only as long as the host remains undigested. What do you say to Jesus in that short time? It helps children to imagine that they live in the time period in which Jesus was walking and talking to His disciples. If you had a chance to have a private meeting with Him, what would you say? Make a practice of staying after Mass for a few minutes, as a family, and giving thanks in silent prayer.

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Friday

This day we remember the Passion of our Lord. This emphasis is so essential to Holy Mother Church that she asks us to make some sort of sacrifice on this day (even outside of Lent). Traditionally, abstinence from meat has been that sacrifice, but others may be more appropriate to your family. For instance: abstinence from sweets, TV, videos, or other forms of entertainment. Here’s a couple of other suggestions:

Encourage the family to make a sacrifice together. First, decide if abstinence from meat is truly a sacrifice in your family. If not, decide on something that is.

Encourage family members to make an additional sacrifice that is just between themselves and the Lord.

Make a Small Sacrifice

Today, make a small sacrifice, such as abstaining from meat or desserts. Pray one or all of the Sorrowful Mysteries after dinner. They are:

  • Sorrowful Mysteries
  • Agony in the Garden — Mark 14:32-36
  • Scourging at the Pillar — John 18:28-38
  • Crowning with Thorns — Mark 15:16-20
  • Carrying of the Cross — John 19:12-17
  • Crucifixion — Mt. 27:33-56; Mark 15:22-41; John 19:16-30

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Recognize the Sacrifices of Others

On Fridays we remember how Christ sacrificed His life for us. There are many people here on earth who have sacrificed for us in imitation of Christ. Today would be a good day to recognize them. Write a letter to a grandparent, neighbor, or family friend, letting them know you have not forgotten their sacrifices. Invite them over for dinner if possible and say a special prayer in thanksgiving for them.

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Religious Art Fair

You’ll need books containing religious art (for example, Faith and Life series student texts), and/or calendars, Christmas, or Easter cards; paper; markers, crayons, pencils, and/or paint; and a place to hang the finished product.

In the past, many artists have portrayed the Passion of Our Lord and other events of His life in paintings inspired by their own faith and prayers. Spend some time looking at and discussing various famous pieces of religious art. Decide whether to copy the style of the artist or the subject of the painting and then start drawing. Display the finished products in a prominent place and invite friends or relatives to view the art. The children can act as museum guides, explaining the different pictures and how they were inspired.

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Bearing a Cross

In His passion and death Christ carried a cross for us, for our sins. He asks us to pick up our cross daily and walk with Him. Talk about the crosses we bear as children and parents. How can we carry them as Christ did? When do we allow others to help? Is complaining and whining part of bearing a cross? Using the directions from the Apostles Book (page 73), make a book that tells a true or fictional story about someone bearing a cross for Christ. Many saints have wonderful, real-world examples of crosses to bear: for example: death of spouse, rejection of family — St. Elizabeth Ann Seton; wayward child — St. Monica. (Resource: The Saints And Our Children, Mary Reed Newland, TAN.)

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Study the Virtue of Fortitude

The moral virtues are acquired by human effort and are the fruit and seed of morally good acts. Four virtues play a key role and are thus called “cardinal” virtues. One is fortitude, which ensures firmness in difficulty and constancy in the pursuit of good (CCC 1804,1805, 1808). Over the next week discuss fortitude and try to practice this virtue. Dinner-time discussions each night with the children will help. Try to include examples of fortitude from real life or stories. (Try The Saints And Our Children, mentioned above.)

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Review the Stations of the Cross Books

If you didn’t make them in Lent, now would be a good time. If you did, you can remake or refurbish the old ones.

You’ll need eight pieces of construction paper per book (any colors); yarn; markers and/or crayons; and a prayer book with responses for each station.

Fold all eight pieces of paper in half at once. Tie a piece of yarn around the fold to hold the pieces together. Close book and write “Stations of the Cross” on the front. On each page, draw a picture of the station and write the response or prayer to be said. Using the books, do the Stations of the Cross at a local church.

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Stations of the Cross Trail

Build this trail in your backyard using the supplies listed.

  • large pictures of each station, drawn yourself and covered with clear contact-paper
  • 15 stakes to stick in the ground
  • 14 spots in yard (can use front- and backyards)
  • heavy-duty staples or tape

Attach pictures to the stakes with heavy duty staples or tape. The first one should mark the beginning of the trail and give instructions. Place the remainder in various spots throughout the yard, creating a meandering trail. When done, take the trail yourselves and pray the stations.

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Abstain from Meat

Bev’s Secret Pancake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbs. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ c. milk
  • ½ c. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs. cinnamon

(For “buttermilk” pancakes: add one tablespoon vinegar; substitute two teaspoons of baking powder for the two tablespoons; add one teaspoon of baking soda.)

Mix with all ingredients together with a fork. For best results, let wet ingredients stand at room temperature before mixing.

— Recipe compliments of the Grab family

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Family Service Chart

You’ll need poster board and markers and/or crayons.

Make a list of household chores and assign each child one or more chores according to his or her age and ability. Write the names next to the chores on your chart. Use a pencil so that the chores can be changed periodically. Discuss how we sometimes need to sacrifice things we want in order to do the things we should. Christ gave His life to save us from our sins, we can imitate Him by giving our time for the good of our family.

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Banishing Bickering

Meditating on the Stations of the Cross is most fruitful when it relates to our everyday lives. One example is the importance of silence, as in the silence on the part of Christ when He was condemned to death, when He was tormented by the soldiers, or when He fell under the weight of the cross. Bickering is one child’s tormenting of another child. The one who holds out the longest in pecking at the other is the perceived “winner.”

It might sound like this:

“You pig, you took the biggest.”
“I’m not a pig.”
“Yes, you are!”
“No, I’m not!” and so on. . . .

Silence can be the answer to this. If one of the children would just stop and remain silent in spite of the fact of the untruth of the other child’s words, just as Christ did in the face of the soldiers, the bickering stops. We can explain to children that this is difficult, but with Christ’s help and example we can do it. We can teach them Christ’s words: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40, NAB). Remind them that provoking a sibling is provoking Jesus and remaining silent under provocation is to be silent with Jesus.

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Reader’s Theater

Read aloud each Scripture reference. Split the parts up like a play so that everyone reads. (The entire passion is too long for one day, so we have split the reading over the next few Fridays.)

  • Jesus condemned to death: Matthew 27:11-26
  • Jesus accepts his cross: Mark 15:16-20
  • Jesus falls the first time: Psalm 5
  • Jesus meets his mother: Luke 2:25-35
  • Simon helps Jesus: Matthew 27:32
  • Veronica wipes the face of Jesus: Isaiah 53:4-5
  • Jesus falls the second time: Acts 3:17-26

For best effect read in low light and dim to candles at the end. Spend some time in silence and finish by reading together John 11:25-26.

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Make Pretzels

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs. honey or sugar
  • 1½ c. lukewarm water
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 c. flour
  • coarse or kosher salt
  • 1 egg, beaten

Add the honey to the water (100° to 110°); sprinkle in the yeast and stir until dissolved. Add one teaspoon salt. Blend in the flour, and knead the dough until smooth.

Cut the dough into pieces. Roll them into ropes and twist into pretzel shapes. You can make small pretzels with thin ropes or large ones with fat ropes, but remember that to cook at the same rate, each batch of pretzels needs to be all the same size.

Place the pretzels on lightly greased cookie sheets. Brush them with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 425° for 12 to 15 minutes, until the pretzels are golden brown.

-- Recipe from A Continual Feast, Ignatius

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Prayer — Hidden Treasure

The four ends of prayer can be remembered by this acronym: ACTS.

  • A (adoration) — giving praise and honor to God.
  • C (contrition) — repenting of our sin.
  • T (thanksgiving) — giving thanks for all God gives to us.
  • S (supplication) — asking for God’s help .

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Read About the Fall

Together as a family, read Genesis 3:1-24. Discuss sin and how it separates us from God. You can also discuss original sin and how Baptism erases this, leaving only the consequence of original sin, which is called “concupiscence.” This simply refers to the tendency to do wrong and is something we need to fight. The children should be very familiar with that urge within them to do things they know are wrong. We can help them to fight this through prayer, discipline, and the development of the virtues. Read verses 14 and 15 again. God promises that the serpent (Satan) will be crushed by the seed of the woman. Who might this be? Review the Ten Commandments.

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Saturday

This day is dedicated to Our Blessed Mother. Pope Paul VI’s apostolic exhortation Marialis Cultus (56) states: “The Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship.” At Fátima, Mary asked all people to honor on the first Saturdays of five consecutive months by attending Mass and confession, saying the Rosary, and meditating for fifteen minutes on one or more of the mysteries of the Rosary. Even if you are unable to make this devotion, any special remembrance of Our Blessed Mother would be a step in the right direction. Fresh flowers at a central image, a decade of the Rosary after dinner, or any offering, will be gladly accepted by Our Mother, who longs for our love and affection.

Make a Marian Shrine

You’ll need:

  • an empty shoebox
  • picture or small statue of the Blessed Mother
  • a plant clippings or colored paper.

Set the shoebox on its side, inside the lid. Paste an image of the Blessed Mother inside the box and decorate around her using colored paper, or real flowers and greenery. This can become a centerpiece for dinner and be used as a focal point during your family’s “after-dinner decade” of the Rosary.

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Marian Pancakes

You’ll need an empty mustard or ketchup squeeze-bottle; pancake batter; blueberries; and pictures of Marian symbols to copy (such as a lily; crown with twelve stars; heart encircled by roses, thorns, and pierced by sword; rose without thorns; morning star; sun and/or moon with monogram; letter M). You might want to include blue food coloring.

Squeeze the batter out in shapes on the griddle, then cook. Use leftover blueberries or whipped cream for decoration. The pictures will need a child’s imagination to be understood, but the image will be set in their mind’s eye!

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Start a Novena

Start a novena today to the Blessed Mother (choose one from the novena section). First decide on an intention (mothers, women, families, or a related specific issue), then choose a time of day for the rest of the week that would be best for all participating. Ideally everyone should be able to participate. Use your Marian shrine as a focal point during prayer, or a picture of Our Lady.

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Make Mom Queen for Today!

One title for the Blessed Mother (found in litanies) is “Queen of the Angels and Saints.” Our earthly mothers are “queens,” too. You’ll need paper; tape; crayons and/or markers; and scissors.

Make a crown for mom that says “Queen of the (Smith) House” and a heart to pin on her blouse listing all of the family names. Plan to take care of all of mom’s chores for the day (including dishes after dinner!). A special prayer and/or blessing should be given before dinner by the eldest child or the father.

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Thank a Spiritual Mother

All women are called to motherhood, whether it be physical or spiritual. Often there are many spiritual mothers in a child’s life, and it is important for both the child and the spiritual mother to be aware of and thankful for this relationship. A spiritual mother might be a babysitter, a teacher, a family friend, an aunt, grandmother, confirmation sponsor, neighbor, or any woman that fulfills a nurturing role in the child’s life.

You’ll need construction paper; markers and/or crayons; glue; large envelope. You might want to include pictures of spiritual mothers.
Help your children identify the spiritual mothers in their lives (pictures would be useful for this). Each child should choose one person for whom to make a thank-you card. Write a thanksgiving prayer for the inside and invoke the Blessed Mother to help and guide the spiritual mother.

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Prepare for Sunday!

Clean house and bake Edelweiss Coffeecake for tomorrow’s brunch. It’s a delectable coffeecake traditionally served with coffee to guests on Sunday afternoons:

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages dry yeast
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ c. warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c. sugar
  • about 6 c. flour
  • 1½ c. milk
  • 1 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 stick (¼ lb.) sweet butter
  • 2/3-1 c. butter at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 c. chopped or ground blanched almonds

Dissolve yeast in the warm water (100°-110°) in large bowl. Stir in one tablespoon of sugar. Let sit until frothy. In saucepan, scald the milk. Add the butter, remaining sugar, and the salt. Stir until butter is melted. Cool to lukewarm. Add the lemon rind and cinnamon and beat in eggs. Add to yeast mixture. Stir in two cups of the flour and beat with wooden smooth until smooth. Gradually add enough of remaining flour to make a soft, non-sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic and blisters form on the surface. Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover with towel or plastic wrap and let rise in draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 1½ hours.

Preheat oven to 350°. Punch dough down, divide into two or three parts (depending if you prefer two large or three small cakes). Grease two baking sheets or three pie pans. Form the dough into two large, round, flat coffeecakes on the baking sheets, or pat into pie pans.

Prepare the topping: Cream the confectioner’s sugar with the butter. Stir in the vanilla and almonds. Sprinkle onto the dough. Let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Yields: Two large or three small coffeecakes.

P.S. These coffeecakes freeze well. You can add raisins or currants, or substitute other nuts for the almonds. For tomorrow’s menu, you may also make quiche, cut fruit, and bake muffins today. If possible, all preparations should be done today.

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Discuss Justice

Justice is the moral virtue which consists in the constant and firm will to give due to God and neighbor. The just man, spoken of in the Sacred Scriptures, is one who habitually thinks rightly and whose conduct is upright towards his neighbor.

“You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15).

Discussion: Since justice has to do with one’s actions, more so than one’s thoughts, discuss just actions. What do we owe God, in justice? (Everything!) What do we owe our neighbor, in justice? What would Christ say?

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Movie Time

Rent the movie Song of Bernadette, or get a children’s movie about the Blessed Mother such as The Day the Sun Danced or Bernadette from CCC Video. Watch as a family.

“The Most Important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built the Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She had built something more magnificent than any cathedral — a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body. . . . The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation. . . . What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother?”

 —  Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty

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Honor Mary

Do a small sacrifice in honor of Mary today such as: saying a Memorare, three Hail Marys, and the Angelus at noon.

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Attend Mass as a Family

One of the titles of the Blessed Mother, found in the Litany of Loreto, is “Health of the Sick.” After Mass today would be a good time to visit a nursing home or any housebound parishioners. Ask your pastor for information on these. Bring flowers to cheer the day of the sick and housebound!

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Make a Rosary Shrine

Set up a special shrine inside or outside your home at which to say the Rosary together. Say the Rosary (Joyful, Sorrowful, or Glorious Mysteries) as a family. Look up the Bible references for the mysteries and read them before each decade.

Joyful Mysteries

  • Annunciation — Luke 1:26-38
  • Visitation — Luke 1:39-47
  • Nativity — Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7
  • Presentation — Luke 2:22-40
  • Finding in the Temple — Luke 2:41-52

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Mystical Rose

You’ll need any number of fresh roses in various colors (if not possible, then a picture or two will do); watercolor paints in the colors of the roses; and watercolor paper or construction paper.

One title of the Blessed Mother is “Mystical Rose.” Using a pencil, sketch one or more roses, then paint them to look “mystical.” Hang the pictures near a statue or shrine of the Blessed Mother. Put the fresh roses in vases around the statue or picture.

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Review Your Week and Celebrate

Review this week of imitating Mary. How did you do? Celebrate with a special dessert called Scrumptious Sundaes. It used to be that this ice cream dessert was only eaten on the Lord’s day, thus the name “sundae.”

You’ll need one or more kinds of ice cream and/or sherbet; chocolate, hot fudge, butterscotch, and/or marshmallow sauce; fresh or frozen fruit; and various toppings, such as nuts or candy.

Let everyone concoct their favorite combination in fancy cups or bowls, and serve.

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Weekend Retreat

Plan to spend a weekend together at home or away. Come up with a theme that relates to your family’s own spiritual journey. This is an especially good time to have discussions with your children on things that concern them deeply and intimately, such as the mysteries of childbirth, or, for older children, dating and marriage. Whatever the topics of discussion, the atmosphere should be prayerful, reflective, and somewhat structured.

A sample schedule might be:

  • 7 a.m. Mass
  • 8:15 a.m. Breakfast (together)
  • 9:15 a.m. Introduction to the plan and purpose; father leads
  • 9:45 a.m. Discussion of “Family Motto”(see “Love is a Decision?”); mother leads
  • 10:30 a.m. Write family motto on poster board and decorate (all)
  • 11:30 a.m. Silent prayer and reflection (in church if possible): How do I live the family motto? How can I?
  •  Noon Angelus
  • 12:30 p.m. Lunch
  • 2 p.m. Split into groups: boys with Dad, girls with Mom (if all children same sex, one parent gets further reflection time). Discuss the parent’s particular role as men or women in the family.
  • 3 p.m. One-on-one time with parents to talk about each child’s particular spiritual/moral life
  • 4 p.m. Silent prayer and reflection
  • 5 p.m. Dinner
  • 6 p.m. Rosary
  • 6:30 p.m. Family reading
  • 7 p.m. Inspirational movie such as The Miracle of Marcelino or A Man For All Seasons (older children and adults).

Sunday — Continue your family retreat following morning Mass. Sunday’s schedule can be less intensive and more celebratory. Be sure to give closure to the family motto and individual discussions. Set family and individual goals and plan when to check on them, such as during a family meeting.

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Memorize a Mary Prayer

Memorize a new prayer to Mary such as the Memorare or the Hail Holy Queen:

Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not me petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

(The Memorare is attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux.)

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Perform an Act of Charity

Remember the Visitation, when the Blessed Mother visited her cousin Elizabeth in her time of need. Is there anyone you know who would appreciate a visit and some help?

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Write a Mary Poem

As a creative family project, write poetry together in honor of Our Lady. A poem written in the cinquain style is constructed as follows:
Cinquain

  • Line 1 — Consists of a noun with two syllables
  • Line 2 — Uses adjectives totaling four syllables
  • Line 3 — Words ending in “ing” totaling six syllables
  • Line 4 — Sentence or phrase using eight syllables
  • Line 5 — Synonym of line one, also with two syllables

Example:

Mary
Pure and gentle
Waiting, loving, giving
Let us honor and imitate
Mother

Now, in your family time, try to write some of your own.

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Some more suggestions:

  • Make a pilgrimage to a nearby Marian shrine or cathedral.
  • Do a sacrifice in her honor for reparation.
  • Read about Our Lady of Fátima, Our Lady of Lourdes, or another apparition of Our Lady.
  • Following Mary’s requests in her appearances in Fátima, follow the guidelines of the First Saturday Devotion: On five consecutive first Saturdays, attend Mass and confession, meditate on some part of the mysteries in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and say a Rosary. (See May, Mary’s month. )
  • Read about the history of St. Dominic and the Rosary. How did it start and why?
  • Research the Brown Scapular and the promises that go with it.