Lesson Notes: Advent Activities

Posted November 22, 2015 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Uncategorized


Advent Activities
Family Formation’s seasonal activity packets have some unique characteristics that distinguish them from the other Home Lessons and since Advent is the first one you’ll get this year, this seems like a good time to give an overview.

  1. You’ll get four of them each year; Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.
  2. Quite often they are not assigned a specific week for you to do them.
    Also, they can typically be done at any point in the season.
  3. Unlike the Home Lessons, where it really is the goal to do as much as possible, each activity in these lessons stands alone and you may choose to do one or lots of them.
  4. Even though this one is listed at the bottom of the “Month Outline” on the sidebar of your Home Lesson covers, you’ll want to pull it out earlier in the month to do a little planning and preparation.

Oh, by the way, in case you haven’t checked yet, the first Sunday of Advent is November 29 this year, so be sure to get a plan before then!

Lesson Notes: Hope!

Posted November 21, 2015 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Uncategorized



It would be very sad indeed to learn about death and all of our other heavy topics of the month without ending with a look at hope.

Hope is one of the things that sets Christians apart.  It’s completely based on trust and putting our lives in God’s hands with complete confidence that He will care for us.  Yes, we still get sick and our cars break down and we have times of sadness and suffering, just like everyone else, but Catholics know  that suffering has a purpose and we can trust in God’s plan with joy!

00036470I Thessalonians 5:8 teaches that hope is the helmet of our armor.  A helmet protect us and the virtue of hope acts in much the same way, protecting our trust in Jesus even when we have no idea where He’s taking us.  If you have younger kids, they’ll probably like the helmet-making activity on page 4.


And, as always this year, we’re asking, “Where is Jesus found in this topic?”

Jesus questions

For that, let’s turn to the Catechism.


Time to feast!

Posted November 20, 2015 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Uncategorized

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The feast of Christ the King is on Sunday and I just wanted to remind you that this is a wonderful time to celebrate in some way before the more penitential season of Advent begins next weekend.  If you’d like a few suggestions, maybe you’ll find a spark of inspiration here:

  • Invite someone over for Sunday brunch.
  • Dress up your table a bit.  Even if you’re just serving take-out pizza for lunch, a tablecloth and candles have a way of getting everyone’s attention.
  • Redecorate your prayer table with a white cloth and whatever gold (brass) decorations you have.  If you have access to a color printer, this would be a nice piece to display.
  • Make dessert.  Or buy dessert and make it a little fancier  for the occasion.
  • Be sure to go over the Sunday readings one more time.  In particular, you may want to talk about the contrast between the first reading and the Gospel.
  • Ask your kids what it means to make Jesus king of their lives.
  • And be sure to thank Him for His loving care for each of us!


UPDATE: Grown-ups may also want to check out Bishop Barron’s Top Ten Christ the King resources.

Preparing for Mass

Posted November 20, 2015 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Uncategorized

Yesterday we spent a bit of time promoting our Liturgical Calendar as a great way to get ready for Mass.  Not only will it help you know what color you can expect Father to be wearing, but it gives the Gospel references so your family can mark their Bibles to follow along with the lector.

Today, we just want to mention the perfect companion piece – the Our Sabbath Scripture Book.


In a nutshell, it follows the adventures of the Pauline family as they prepare for Mass each Sunday.  The best part may be that their Sunday prep is almost always out of the ordinary and almost never involves the stress of lost shoes and oversleeping.  It helps readers to refocus on just what Sunday is all about and has been a treasured part of Family Formation tradition almost since our beginning.

The fun part is that there are always new readers discovering the blessings of Our Sabbath Scripture Book and we were delighted to find one of their testimonies here.

I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again.

My family really loves this book.

We read it on the way to Mass, which means I have to speak VERY LOUDLY to reach all of the people in our 15-passenger van. In any case, this is the tradition that’s working for us, and in fact, if I don’t read it, people start asking!

Thanks again, Margaret!

Prepping for the Season

Posted November 19, 2015 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Uncategorized


Advent will be here before you know it, so it’s time to get this year’s Liturgical Calendar. Did you know that this is one of the individual pieces you can buy on Family Formation’s web site?   Liturgical calendars make a great gift for godchildren or anyone else who wants to keep track of the seasons and Bible readings of the Church. They’re very reasonably priced and available in two formats both in either Spanish or English: ready-to-color or colored and laminated.


The main advantage of the uncolored one you get to be both artist and student! Directions for coloring to match the Liturgical Seasons are a part of each calendar and we guarantee you’ll learn as you work.


The back is also filled with great stuff Catholics should know!


The colored and laminated option is durable enough to survive lots of handling as you refer to it throughout the entire year. It’s a great choice if you have children who are too small for detailed coloring but still want to keep track of the color your priest will be wearing at Mass each Sunday.

Lesson Notes: Heaven, Hell, Purgatory

Posted November 18, 2015 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Uncategorized

Heaven hell purgatory

Like last week’s lesson, this one starts out by educating parents. You’re the ones who are going to get the impromptu questions, so it’s in your best interest to be as prepared as possible.

Heaven is real.  What will it be like?  We really don’t know for sure, but it will definitely be the place where we experience the love of God to the fullest extent, for all eternity.  Yes, please!

Hell is also real.  We know it’s so because Jesus told us.  If you think God is too nice to send anyone to hell, you’re kind of on the right track.  God has created us for heaven and never, ever wants anyone to be in hell.  Nonetheless, if someone willfully turns from God through mortal sin and persists in that position until the end of his life, God will honor that choice.  The Church has never definitively declared any particular person to be there, but it’s certainly possible.

Purgatory is that blessed gift most of us will experience! If you love God but are painfully aware of your failings, take a minute right now to thank Him for the gift of purgatory.  Those who are there are part of an interesting tension – definitely destined for heaven, but also definitely not there yet.  It would be a disservice to characterize purgatory as a place where we get “cleaned up” for heaven’s standards; saints have described their visions of it as a place of fire and suffering.  But still, knowing that heaven is on the horizon makes it a place of great hope.  By all means, we strive for heaven, but just in case, purgatory is an awesome example of God’s unending mercy!

The lesson for this week is simply a continuation of what happened to the Marcus family in last week’s lesson.  As often happens after the death of a loved one, poor Emily is still troubled about it.  Her wise parents arrange a routine family activity that teaches these principles of heaven, hell and purgatory in a way she can understand.

Again, we recommend you pre-read the story to give it the “seal of approval” for your own kids, but we’re confident you’ll like it.  The Marcus Family Talks About Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory is vague enough to not be scary, while still handling some important truths of the Faith.

Emily Marcus

And Finally –

I found Jesus

Yes, of course!  More than anything, Jesus wants you to be in heaven with him someday.  He’s completed His part of the deal, but you have to do yours by cooperating with His graces and loving Him as best you can during your life.  Learning about how you can do that is a fantastic start!

Lesson Notes: Death, Judgment & Resurrection

Posted November 14, 2015 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Uncategorized


death judgment resurrectionDeath is one of those topics that we know we should get to “someday”, but what usually happens is that we get blindsided by necessity when we witness an accident or some relative or friend is suddenly struck down.  At that point, teaching your kids about a tough subject is not only unavoidable, but you have the added pressure of emotional involvement.  In my mind, having the luxury of a little distance is the best argument for talking about these topics now.

The best thing you can do is take a little refresher course on just what the Church teaches and that’s why this lesson (and next week’s as well) both start with Parent Pages just for you.

The rest of this lesson is mostly contained in a story: The Marcus Family Talks About Aunt Alice’s Death.  As you can guess, a family member dies and the kids have questions.  What happens when we die?  Where does our soul go?  Do we become angels?  Pre-read it, of course, but we’re confident that you will find the story to be a very positive and gentle presentation of the topic which answers questions your kids may not have even thought of yet.

For the activities, you’ll find one of our favorite ones ever!  The “Soul Man” is so simple that you cannot possibly have an excuse not to do it, but at the same time he illustrates a profound lesson.  Our bodies will stay here; our souls will go to God, and eventually the two will be reunited – it’s a fantastic use for a window cling.  Seeing this simple demonstration makes the concepts clear to all ages and you’ll probably find your kids trying it out over and over again.

The other activity is more advanced and is for anyone who is old enough to look up verses in the Bible and Catechism.  There is a page full of game card references.  Cut them apart, look them up and see if they belong under the heading of Death, Judgment, or Resurrection.  There are lots of great skills involved in this activity, and you’ll learn lots as you go through it.  (And if you don’t have a Catechism, try this searchable online version.)

And in case you’re wondering ...

thinking woman

He’s actually all over it.  The reason to prepare for death is not only its inevitability.  We prepare now because this is the only chance we get to do it right so we can spend eternity with Jesus!  At the moment of death, our soul leaves our body and meets Jesus face-to-face.  Jesus will judge all our thoughts, words, and actions while on earth based on how much we loved and obeyed God.  Based on this judgement, our soul will be on its way to either heaven, hell, or purgatory.

He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

One day, Jesus will return in glory, all bodies will be united with their souls and the consequences of everyone’s deeds will be made known to all mankind.  From there, we will all spend eternity in our well-deserved final destinations.

One more thing – I always recommend that parents tuck this lesson away in a file somewhere to pull out again when someone you know has died.  It’ll be a very teachable-moment time and you may appreciate the refresher course.


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