Lesson Notes: Advent Activities Packet

Posted November 22, 2017 by Sue Klejeski
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Advent Activities

This packet of ideas is all about helping your family to get control of the pre-Christmas season and to use it to actually prepare for the Savior’s birth.  I like this analogy by Kendra from the Catholic All Year blog:

I think of it like I was planning a big wedding. It would be on my mind months ahead of time. I’d get a few major projects done well in advance so I wouldn’t have to worry about them as the big day approached. Then in the weeks before the wedding, I would focus on having everything I needed available and organized and cleaned. I would bake the cake and prepare the food. I would scrub down and decorate the church and the reception hall in the days just before the wedding. I would be prepared to celebrate. We’d have the rehearsal dinner the night before.
But what I wouldn’t do is throw a reception or two a couple of weeks before the wedding and eat the cake and the wedding bell cookies and drink all the champagne before the happy couple is even married, before they’re in town even. That would be crazy.  But that’s kind of what I was doing with Christmas.
All of our activity packets are filled with ways for you to celebrate the special seasons of the Liturgical Year.  They are not “lessons” in the traditional FF sense – the expectations are these:
  • Look it over ahead of time and prayerfully consider what will work with your family.
  • You are almost certainly not going to do everything in the packet.  It’s a bundle of ideas for you to choose from.
  • The packet is probably intended to be used throughout the season.  In this case, you may want to start with the calendar activity sometime before Advent actually begins, do the St. Nicholas activity on December 5th (in preparation for his feast the next day), and then pray the O Antiphons beginning on the 17th.  Quick and easy!

Lesson Notes: The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Posted November 18, 2017 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Sue's Suggestions

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Spiritual Works

This lesson focuses on Saint Paul, who was a model in practicing the Spiritual Works of Mercy.  Paul was a master evangelist and knew that meant showing Jesus’ love to everyone but also saying or doing whatever was necessary to keep his growing flock on the right track.

Paul teaches us that when we do works of mercy in Jesus’ name to lead others closer to Him, we too become more like Jesus!

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are:

  • Admonish the sinner
  • Instruct the ignorant
  • Counsel the doubtful
  • Comfort the sorrowful
  • Bear wrongs patiently
  • Forgive all injuries, and
  • Pray for the living and the dead

And this is definitely an instance where we need to break down the complex language into something your children can understand.  For that, we have games!

Your whole family will benefit by playing Working at Mercy, where moving around the game board and collecting mercy cards will give all sorts of practical ways kids can practice these Works.

Additionally, your older kids will benefit from following St. Paul’s journeys by using the map of the Mediterranean region and the cards on the bottom of page 7.  As they read each verse, they should determine which of the Spiritual Works is being demonstrated, and then the card gets attached to the proper place on the map.  Map skills … Bible skills … critical thinking skills … it’s a great challenge for your older kids!




Works of Mercy Coloring Book

Posted November 17, 2017 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Uncategorized


One of nicest things about our job here is working with so many creative people!  One of them, Theresa, a Family Formation DRE from Vermont, wrote a children’s coloring book a few years ago on the Works of Mercy, and her granddaughter illustrated it.  When she saw our upcoming Home Lessons on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, she offered to share it with all of you!

It would be a nice way to extend the lessons and we thank them both for making it available to everyone.

Mercy Coloring Book

Art for December Prayer Tables

Posted November 15, 2017 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Sue's Suggestions

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This month’s topic is on Baptism and Confirmation and the profound connections between the two, and for our piece of prayer table art, I recommend this work by Pietro Longhi entitled The Baptism.  Baptism is the foundation of the Christian life and is a sacrament that most of your students will have experienced.


It’s very easy to be drawn into this happy scene.  Almost all eyes are focused on the beautiful drama being enacted near the center as the infant is beginning her new life in Christ.  The woman on the right, behind the pillar, doesn’t seem to be part of the family, but she can’t resist witnessing this wonderful event, and the server in the front is looking out at all of us, make us feel like we’re part of the scene as well!

Thanks to the Web Gallery of Art!

Lesson Notes: Celebrating the Real Presence

Posted November 11, 2017 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Sue's Suggestions

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Real Presence

Praying along with the Mass is the highest praise we can pay to God.  We come for a sense of community – to attend this great family banquet, but most of all we are there to offer ourselves, whole and entire, in union with the perfect sacrifice of our savior.

First Communicant praying - TinaThere are a couple separate paths for this lesson, and if you only have younger kids you may want to focus on the first.  Kids love stories, right?  Your pre-Communion aged kids may appreciate a story about young Therese of Lisieux and how she absolutely longed to receive Communion.  Three years (years!) before she was old enough, Therese started preparing the gift she would give to her beloved Jesus on her first Communion day.

We also have a story about Saint Tarcisuis, a 4th-century boy who gave his life defending the consecrated Hosts he was bringing to condemned Christians in prison.  His belief in the Real Presence was put to the ultimate test.

The other path deals with a question of faith: the host and the wine look unchanged.  How can we know that the consecration makes them really and truly the Body and Blood of Jesus?  And for that, we have analogies, activities, and explanations to help your entire family to better understand.

Partners in the Gospel: Jesse Tree Treasures

Posted November 9, 2017 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Sue's Suggestions

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Partners in the GospelAdvent, Advent!  There are so many wonderful things I could say about this favorite season!  I always feel like every effort focused on waiting* and preparing for Christmas is a little victory that will help my family better celebrate the birth of Christ.

Whether you light a candle each evening, read a book set aside for the season**, or change up your family’s prayer time a bit, Advent offers lots of opportunities to grow in faith!

The devotion I’d like to mention today is an ancient tradition that helps us recall the long, long wait for the arrival of the Savior.  It’s called a Jesse Tree (from the promise in Isaiah 11:1-4) and simply involves recalling a little piece of salvation history each day throughout Advent.  From creation to the manger, presenting this long wait as chapters in a single story is an immensely valuable way to give your family an abiding sense of God’s love and His plan for us!

A beautiful way to do that is with the ornaments created by Jane and Angie at Jesse Tree Treasures.  Not only are they heirloom quality, but they are kid safe and come with the Scripture references you need to make this a successful prayer and story time throughout the entire season.  If you would like to put together a custom set to match your favorite children’s Bible, they’ll help you with that.  If you would like to extend the tradition with additional sets, they do that too.


Advent starts on December 3 this year so this would be the best time to order to make sure you’re ready to go.

*(Never mind that this also cooperates with a tendency to procrastinate.)
** Great Advent book lists from trusted Catholic sources: Rosie’s listHaley’s list, Elizabeth’s list, and many, many lists from Jessica!

I Believe!

Posted November 8, 2017 by Sue Klejeski
Categories: Uncategorized

athanasius_iThe speaker at our November parent meetings focused mainly on the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed, but also mentioned a third, albeit little-used, creed in our Catholic tradition.  So for those of you who are interested in “nerdy theology,” here’s your reminder to look up the Athanasian Creed.

  1. Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith;
  2. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.
  3. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
  4. Neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance.
  5. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Spirit.
  6. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is all one, the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.
  7. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Spirit.
  8. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Spirit uncreated.
  9. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible.
  10. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Spirit eternal.
  11. And yet they are not three eternals but one eternal.
  12. As also there are not three uncreated nor three incomprehensible, but one uncreated and one incomprehensible.
  13. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Spirit almighty.
  14. And yet they are not three almighties, but one almighty.
  15. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God;
  16. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.
  17. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Spirit Lord;
  18. And yet they are not three Lords but one Lord.
  19. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord;
  20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords.
  21. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten.
  22. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten.
  23. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
  24. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Spirit, not three Holy Spirits.
  25. And in this Trinity none is afore or after another; none is greater or less than another.
  26. But the whole three persons are coeternal, and coequal.
  27. So that in all things, as aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
  28. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.
  29. Furthermore it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  30. For the right faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man.
  31. God of the substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and man of substance of His mother, born in the world.
  32. Perfect God and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting.
  33. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood.
  34. Who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ.
  35. One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.
  36. One altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person.
  37. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ;
  38. Who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead;
  39. He ascended into heaven, He sits on the right hand of the Father, God, Almighty;
  40. From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
  41. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies;
  42. and shall give account of their own works.
  43. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.
  44. This is the catholic faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved.

If it helps, apparently in Latin it’s composed of 44 rhythmic lines. 🙂

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