Catholic Family Meeting {Prep for Sunday, January 4} - Epiphany!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

This past week has been quite busy in preparing for and celebrating Christmas.  What a blessing to spend so much time with family!  

We are trying to keep on celebrating the Christmas season through the Epiphany this Sunday.  This week's family meeting has fun and easy ways to recognize the Epiphany of The Lord, when the magi visit Jesus.   

Celebrating the Real Season of Christmas {December 25 and after}

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Culturally, the Christmas season seems to die down a couple days after December 25.  Christmas music is no longer on the radio.  Christmas decorations are taken down, and stores relocate Christmas items to the clearance section.  This makes perfect sense in a world where we start celebrating Christmas the day after Thanksgiving.  

But for those of us who have been focusing on the waiting and expectation of Christmas during Advent, it's important that the real Christmas season gets it's due.  The Church's Christmas season technically lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which is January 11 this year.  

We have been listening to some Christmas music and taking part in many of Christmas traditions, but I really want the Church's Christmas season to really be celebrated.  

To help us celebrate, I plan on continuing with Christmas music, visiting a local lights display, and eating special treats.  We will also be leaving our tree up for the next couple of weeks. 

In addition, there are some important feast days during the Christmas season that can be fun to celebrate.  Below is a list of the feast days and simple ideas for observing them.
Dec. 25 - Christmas

I'm sure you have PLENTY of ideas for celebrating Christmas day, so we'll move on...

Dec. 26 - Feast of St. Stephen (first martyr)

  • Boxing Day, a British tradition celebrated on St. Stephen's Day, is a day to open the poor "boxes" and give to the needy.  As a family, gather items or money to give to the poor or prepare a gift for someone in need.
  • Read or sing "Good King Wenceslas", which is about the real St. Wenceslaus, who went out to do good deeds on St. Stephen's Day

Dec. 27 - Feast of St. John the Evangelist

  • Read the gospel of John (written by St. John).
  • John was the apostle that Jesus most loved.  He is often pictured near or next to Jesus, like at the Last Supper, the Transfiguration, and Jesus' crucifixion.  Have the kids hunt for John in biblical pictures.
  • Drink wine or make hot spiced wine, as it is said St. John drank poisoned wine without getting sick and that wine offered on his feast day is blessed.
  • An eagle is the symbol of St. John.  Go bird watching and look out for eagles.

Dec. 28 (Sunday) - Feast of the Holy Family
  • Prep for mass with our family meeting slideshow
  • Have a family get-together or family outing
  • Eat Lebanese food like Mary would have prepared for Joseph and Jesus.
Dec. 29 -  St. Thomas Becket

  • Have an English tea party and discuss St. Thomas' life, complete with English tea and treats, like crackers, cookies, cheese, and fruits.
  • Bake sword and mitre cookies, with a simple sugar cookie recipe.  Or you could cut sandwiches into swords with mitres.
  • Adults can watch Becket, which is streaming on Netflix!

Dec. 31 - St. Sylvester

  • Make Sylvester Punch, an Austrian tradition of spiced wine/tea
  • Give thanks for the past year and
  • Celebrate the New Year

  • Attend mass (it's a holy day of obligation)
  • Pray a rosary together.
  • Make a simple Blessed Brownie with a fleur-de-lis (a symbol of Mary) on top with icing or powdered sugar
  • Visit the Statue of Mary at church

  • Color a poster for Jesus' name, like this one:

The Most Holy Name of Jesus Coloring Page
Free Printable
Real Life at Home

I'm hoping to plan more for the Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord.  Have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Catholic Family Meeting {Prep for Sunday, Dec 28} - Feast of the Holy Family

Monday, December 22, 2014

Seeing as how Christmas Eve is just two days away (!!!), I am not exactly sure when I'm planning to do our family meeting on the mass readings this week.  I first want to focus on Christmas mass and making sure the children understand the nativity story.  We've been reading it, watching it on video with The Nativity Story (without viewing the scarier parts) and The Nativity, and the girls have been reenacting it with their Nativity play set.  I think I just have to continue to emphasize the importance of the real reason for Christmas, while still letting the girls enjoy Santa and other traditions.

We will probably discuss Sunday's readings on Friday or Saturday, and celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family on Sunday.  It's a great time to discuss with our kids what a family is and the commitment that a family has to each other in good times and in bad.

So without further ado, here is this week's family meeting slideshow:

Catholic Family Meeting {Prep for December 21} - Fourth Sunday of Advent

Oops!  So sorry I forgot to post this past week's Family Meeting slideshow.  You can still talk about the readings with your family, and we can always strive to be more like Mary, in her faith and obedience.  

Catholic Family Meeting {Prep for Sunday, December 14} Third Sunday of Advent!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

This Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent, also known as Guadete Sunday, meaning rejoice!  Like last week, the gospel reading is another on John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus.  It starts with

"A man named John was sent from God.  He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to testify to the light." John 1:6-8

Jesus is the light in the darkness.  

Even though in Advent we are preparing for Jesus, He is also already present in our lives.  All we have to do is look around and recognize Him among the blessings we've been given.  

For me, I see Jesus in my husband when he is selfless and forgiving.  I see Jesus in my two daughters, their sweetness, innocence, and joy in the smallest of things.  I see Jesus in my parents, in their generosity and love.  I see Jesus in the beauty and perfection of nature.  I see Jesus in the faithful servants of His church, who generously care for their community and teach the gospel to their children.  I see Jesus in the small, kind acts of strangers every day.  

This week there are several awesome feast days that are fun to celebrate and help us stay focused on Jesus during Advent:  St. Juan Diego (12/9), Our Lady of Guadalupe (12/12), and St. Lucy (12/13).  We will be doing activities from the pages I linked that I spent a lot of time researching last year.  Grace is so excited about them, especially St. Lucy's feast day, as she will get to wear the wreath on her head and deliver cinnamon rolls to us for breakfast.  Even if you do just a little to recognize these feast days, your children will appreciate it.

I hope you have a great family meeting!

Catholic Family Meeting {Prep for Sunday, December 7} - 2nd Sunday of Advent!

Monday, December 1, 2014

'As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: "Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare  your way.  A voice of one crying out in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths."

                                                                         Mark 1:2-3

This second Sunday of Advent, we continue to prepare for Jesus.  All the readings relate to the Lord's coming and salvation.  The gospel reading tells of John the Baptist, who came before Jesus, baptizing and preparing people for the arrival of the Messiah.  

During our family meeting this week, we focused on how we can prepare ourselves for Jesus and bring others to know Him.  There are also some fun videos about John the Baptist and ideas for simple John the Baptist themed snacks.  

As you continue your Advent, consider including some simple but meaningful traditions, like the ones described here.  Also consider joining the Holy Heroes Advent Adventure for daily videos and activities.