Catholic Family Meeting {Prep for Fifth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B}

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

This week we celebrate the Fifth Sunday of Easter.  I really love how the Easter season coincides with the renewal of spring.  And what a perfect time to discuss this week's gospel reading (John 15:1-8), where Jesus instructs His disciples at the Last Supper:  

How true this is too.  There are so many examples in my life of how I was unable to "bear fruit" (solve a problem or achieve a desired result) simply because I remained in myself instead of Christ.  For most of my life, when difficulties arose, I simply turned inward to see if I could solve it, assuming that I should be able to figure out things on my own.  I was pretty smart and capable, I thought.  How proud I was.  In hindsight, I could have saved myself much difficulty throughout life by abiding in Christ.  Keeping Him close, as He keeps me close to Him.  

I realize now that the only way that anything I do or say can bear good fruit is by abiding in Christ.  

It is something I have to remind myself of daily:  To put Him first in my life.

Click here to view Our Catholic Family Meeting slideshow document

Catholic Family Meeting {Prep for Fourth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B}

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

If you didn't see it last week, I shared about the new and improved Catholic Family Meeting slideshows and how our family meets.  

This Fourth Sunday of Easter is called Good Shepherd Sunday because the gospel reading always comes from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John on, you guessed it...the Good Shepherd.  

This year, Cycle B, the reading focuses on Jesus telling that He is the Good Shepherd, who "lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11).  It is definitely worth reading up on the background of this gospel and how provocative of a statement it was.

As I read John 10:11-18 I thought of how thankful I am that Jesus is our Shepherd.  That He knows us, He laid down His life for us, and that He continues to speak to us.  He is the perfect example of selfless love.  We are also blessed as Catholics to have the shepherding of Pope Francis and the Catholic Church, that unites as one flock.  

On the other hand, there are many "shepherds" in our popular culture who are leading us and our children away from God.  I think it's imperative that we stay watchful of who we are allowing to shepherd us and whether he is a good shepherd or a "hired man" who "works for pay and has no concern for the sheep" (John 10:12-13).

Check out this week's Catholic Family Meeting slideshow:

To view the actual slideshow click here: Our Catholic Family Meeting {Fourth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B}

Celebrating St. Bernadette {April 16} and Our Lady of Lourdes {February 11}

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

So this is one of those posts that I started back in February and planned to post before the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, but apparently didn't have time.  But how convenient that I just found it and we are two days from celebrating St. Bernadette Soubirous!  So killing two birds with one stone. Or something like that...

My family actually did celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on February 11, so I will share some of the things we did, as well as some other ideas.  


I've really been working to build our library of Catholic saints, so I have several good books with information about St. Bernadette. We read Our Lady of Lourdes by Father Lovasik. It's expensive on Amazon, but I got it from a local Catholic gift shop for $1.99.

We also have the Loyola Kids Book of Saints, which is an awesome compilation of well-known saints and their stories, including St. Bernadette.  You could buy the e-book version if you had to have it in time. 

A few other children's books about St. Bernadette and Lourdes, that might be worth checking out can be found herehere, and here.


Bernadette - The Princess of LourdesWe watch Bernadette, The Princess of Lourdes from CCC, which tells the story of Our Lady appearing to Bernadette.  It is a very cute 30 minute movie.  A friend from church lent us their copy, and my girls love it!  You might be able to find a copy in your church's library, or you can buy one from the CCC for the next couple days 50% off!

The Song of Bernadette (1943) Poster
Our family also watched The Song of Bernadette that we got on DVD from Netflix, which is a black and white telling of the story made in 1943.  It is very well done, and my girls both watched it with us and enjoyed it.  Plus Vincent Price plays the pompous, Atheist prosecutor who tries to break Bernadette's spirits.  You can't really beat that.  So good.


our lady of lourdes coloring page
Our Lady of Lourdes coloring page
Catholic Playground


Grace (5) made an Our Lady of Lourdes holy water font for her room.  It was pretty cute to see how excited she was to have her own holy water font.  Love it!  So we used this idea from Cottage Blessings as inspiration, and this is what Grace made.

I bought the wood plaque for $1 at the craft store, the brackets to nail into the back (which are found in the framing section), modge podge, a foam brush, and a bag of mosaic tiles (these were a little expensive, but I wanted something that would look nice, not junky).  The picture of Our Lady of Lourdes I found online, printed, and we modge-podged it to the wood.  I like the idea of using a clear plastic shot glass to hold the water, but I couldn't really find anything that would work at the craft store, so we went with half of a plastic Easter egg.  Warning, many plastic eggs have holes in them, so be sure to find one without a hole!  


This is a perfect feast day to pray a family rosary, just as St. Bernadette prayed the rosary with Mary.  Our Lady of Lourdes is also known for healing, so pray some intentions for those you know who are sick or in need of healing.  You could also pray the Our Lady of Lourdes novena.


Since Lourdes, where Bernadette lived and the apparitions took place, is in France, we listened to the traditional French Pandora music station as we ate a French dish called Chicken Chasseur.  There are lots of options though, like eating food that is white or blue, since Our Lady of Lourdes was wearing a white robe with a blue sash.  Maybe blueberry crepes with white whipped cream?  You know, I'd eat that for the sake of a feast day.  

Now I saved the best for last.  Because this is fantastic.  Wait for it....

Rice Crispy Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto
Catholic Cuisine

Yeah, you saw that right.  A rice crispy treat grotto.  With Mary.  This was by the far the easiest, most delicious, most kid-enthusiastic thing we did.  And no mine was not this fancy with colored leaves.  When the rice crispy and marshmallow delicious mix was still warm, I molded it into a grotto.  And then I placed the Mary from our play Nativity set into it.  Boom.

Now that we did all that for the Feast in February, I've got to come up with some quick ideas for St. Bernadette's feast day this week.

If you have any ideas, let me know in the comments below!


Catholic Family Meeting {Prep for Third Sunday of Easter, Cycle B}

So with an updated, simpler blog format, I was motivated to give an updated and simpler look to the Our Catholic Family Meeting slideshows.  As you can probably tell, I'm into burlap, chalkboards, and distressed wood, so yeah....

I also thought it would be a good time to give some more information on how my family uses the slideshows and links to guide our family meetings.

Here's some basic info about our Catholic Family Meeting


The creation of the Catholic Family Meeting came out of a desire to set aside one night each week that tied together prayer, scripture, and fun family time.  I also wanted us to be better prepared for Sunday mass by knowing the readings in advance.  I described how I came up with the various parts in my first post about family meetings.  

The reason that I made the Our Catholic Family Meeting slideshow was to have something that I could easily adapt each week and to give a visual for the various things I wanted to include.  


We don't have a set day of the week because the evenings each week can look a little different, but we always aim to do it in the beginning of the week.  I find if we try for later in the week, things get crazier and we run out of time or forget.  So, typically we try to set aside about 30-45 minutes on a Monday or Tuesday evening each week.  And I usually plan them on Monday, so I hope to have them posted on the blog by Tuesday.

I've found that focusing on the readings early in the week and then referring back to them throughout the week has made a huge difference in understanding the mass for both us adults and for the girls.  Well, Grace (5) anyway.  I have been really impressed by her understanding of bible stories and her ability to remember them and key verses.  Young kids are sponges!  As for Ada (now 3!), she mostly exists in the room during the meeting, reading or quietly (sometimes) playing.


Really, this could take place anywhere that has comfy seating because all we really use is my Chrome book and any books or basic materials that we've chosen from the Family Activities section of the slideshow.  For us, it usually happens in the living room.  

Yup, that's our living room.  Complete with Hello Kitty boombox and baskets of children's books.  This is pretty much exactly what it looked like when we did our family meeting last night.  But with people.  


A few key notes about using the slideshow:

  1. They are named (from about a month ago on) by the liturgical day and year (Cycle) instead of the date.  This should make it easier to reuse them in the future, since our awesome Catholic Church goes through the entire bible in its three year cycle.  
  2. Anything underlined is a hyperlink to a webpage that is either very or moderately helpful.  
  3. The Family Activities page lists a variety of activities that are meant to be picked and chosen for what your family is interested in doing.  We never do all the items listed.  My girls always want to watch a video if there is one, and then I usually choose what I think will work best for us.
  4. The last page has links for many of the resources used to prepare the prayers, activities, and feast days, so they are great sites to check out.
  5. The things on the slideshow are just suggestions that can be used, but there is no set way to do such a "meeting".  At least not that I could find.
  6. You will probably want to glance over the readings and background information before your family meeting.  It helps me tremendously to research a bit before our meeting, so that I have adequate knowledge to pass on to my family.  

So here is this week's slideshow:

To view the actual slideshow click here: Our Catholic Family Meeting {Third Sunday of Easter, Cycle B}

I'd love to hear how your family does family meetings.  Let me know in the comments below.  :)

- Jessica