CELEBRATING CATHOLIC FEASTDAYS IN THE HOME

 

   One of the most enjoyable ways to teach our children the richness of the Catholic Faith and to keep them close to the Holy Mother Church is to fill their lives with the sacred and the beautiful.  When they are immersed in the reverence and silence of the Traditional Latin Mass, when they grow accustomed to the rhythm and rituals of following and celebrating the feast days, both at Church and at home, these traditions become such an integral part of them that the thought of not being Catholic will seem empty and meaningless. Traditions of not eating meat on Fridays, of eating animal cookies and hot chocolate on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, of baking and shaping symbolic bread for the St. Joseph’s altar, of gathering up sweaters to give away for the feast of St. Martin of Tours define who they are as Catholics and will remain with them the rest of their lives to enrich and sustain them through the hard times that will inevitably come.  Even if the celebrations can only be sporadic, despite our best efforts, we can be heartened to remember that children will usually look back and say “We ALWAYS ate waffles on Annunciation day in honor of Our Lady.”  Thankfully, children are flexible and resilient when we give our best efforts and offer the rest up to God to bless for us.  If you are new to following the feast days and your children are already teenagers, do not lose hope.  Although they may act as if they are uninterested, everyone loves special foods and celebrations, and they will keep these customs in their hearts where they will take root someday, if not now.  And remember  - these are traditions that can be enjoyed when the grown children come home for visits, as adults alone in the home, or with grandchildren. Keeping Catholic traditions alive is wonderful for the soul for all ages, married or unmarried, family or no family.  We celebrate with those who have gone before us, the Church Triumphant, and we need never feel lonely or bored or unloved.  THAT is the wisdom and beauty of being Catholic!

 

   As you begin to establish your authentic Catholic home, be sure to visit the following websites. You will find them overflowing with prayers, devotions, histories, ideas, and recipes.  The first, www.fisheaters.com/domesticchurch.html, reminds us “Catholic homes should be filled with books, art, music, the necessary things to make crafts, etc.  There should be plenty to feed the mind and heart, and to engage the body…” With that in mind, we read on and discover ideas that would work in our own homes to enrich our families. This site also contains a wealth of traditional prayers, customs, devotions, and explanations of all things traditional Catholic.

 

    Again, please remember that living a fully authentic Catholic life is important for all of us, with or without children.  Learning about our Faith, discovering ethnic recipes to enjoy with a glass of wine, trying our hand at making a Mary garden, learning Latin, redecorating our house to make it beautiful and Catholic, dusting off our carpentry skills to make a roadside shrine, all serve to keep us fresh, young, and interested in life whether we are 20 or 90 years old.  This is what God wants for us, and he will richly bless us in our efforts, no matter how slowly we begin .By being joyful and having a zest for life with all of our new projects and learning, we can’t help but influence and enrich the lives of those around us, which in itself is no small act of charity.

 

 

 

    The second website is www.catholiccuisine.blogspot.com.  It is contains recipes, photos, and ideas to celebrate the seasons and feast days of the Catholic liturgical year.  At times, it includes a brief history, lists books and links to read more about the saint, and gives other ideas to make the celebration more meaningful.  Several books are pictured on the sidebar, most of which can be ordered directly or requested through inter-library loan to peruse at your leisure. They include recipe books from monasteries, light-hearted guides to Catholic living, family tradition books from the 1940s and 50s, and so much more.  There is a treasure trove of information to be gleaned from this site.

 

     The third website is called Women for Faith and Family. ( www.wf-f.org.) It is a wonderful resource for traditional Catholics.  The liturgical calendar lists prayers, Collects, and Scripture readings along with the Saint or feast associated with that day.  The Prayers and Devotion section will have a painting of the saint, the Collect, Scripture reading, patron saint information, excerpts from books containing histories, family activities, and special foods to celebrate the seasons of the Church and feast days.  Additionally, one can find everything from the Liturgy of the Hours, a list of Mary’s Flowers, Family Sourcebooks for Advent and Lent, excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Canon Law concerning Lent, to seasonal messages and homilies from Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.  This site is highly recommended!

 

     And lastly, Catholic Culture (www.catholicculture.org) is overflowing with history, legends, links to paintings, old traditional prayers, the breviary, and excerpts from pertinent books and articles. Included on the feast or saint page are patron saint information, symbols of the saints, recipes, things to do, and a family activity section as appropriate.  As an example, for the Feast of St. Martin of Tours the following is listed in the Activity section:  “ Recite the Iste Confessor (linked) in honor of St. Martin. Go through your closet and purge your wardrobe of unnecessary or surplus items and donate them to the St. Vincent De Paul Society or some other organization that helps the poor.  Cook a special dinner of roast goose or duck in honor of St. Martin.  Bake some horseshoe cookies. (Sidebar is full of recipes)  In Europe this day is traditionally known as Martinmas.  Many foods and traditions are connected with this day.  See also Women for Faith and Family for more Catholic traditions.  For a children’s perspective and craft project of paper lanterns for the St. Martin’s Parade, see Fun Social Studies on St. Martin. (linked) St. Martin is the patron saint of wine growers, wine makers and vintners.  In France, the tasting of the new wine is done today.  Have a Martinmas gathering, serving this year’s Noveau Beaujolais wine from France.  Read Painting Angels, Saints and Their Symbols (linked) for a discussion about St. Martin’s symbols in art.  For more biographies and other information on St. Martin, read Patron Saints Index (linked).  This page has a nice collection of Art of St. Martin of Tours. (linked) Read Wilson’s Almanac (linked) for more secular traditions related to this day.”  As you can see, there is something to please everyone here, young or old, amateur art historian, book lover, or kitchen cook.  Again, highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

     If all of this sounds too daunting, remember to keep two basic points in mind. First, it is not wise to get so enthusiastic that we try to keep 15 saint days in one month, order a $100 worth of seeds for a garden that is only an idea in our mind, or buy a Latin course when we can’t keep the laundry from reproducing while we sleep.  Start small, offer it all up to Jesus, our Blessed Mother, and our patron saint and ask for guidance from the Holy Ghost.  Secondly, if our lives are so full that the thought of just one feast day celebration sounds overwhelming, then it may be time to reassess our priorities.  Does God and our Catholic faith come first in our lives on a noticeable and visible basis, or do we relegate Him to the end - be squeezed in, if possible, between hectic work schedules, sports, dance, music lessons, TV, computer, movies, or whatever else fills our days? We were made to know, love, and serve God on earth so we can be happy with Him forever in Heaven.  It is not good for our souls if we do not put God where He belongs – first in our lives.  And if we are parents, responsible for the souls of our children, we are especially charged with living out our faith to the best of our ability, and to be a good example for our children to follow – so they may always “do as we do, not just as we say.”