Author Archive

What are you doing with your flashcards?

October 25, 2016

Here is another idea of what you can do with the Church Year Flash Cards.  Tape them up somewhere in your home and refer to it throughout the year!  “Where are we NOW in the liturgical calendar?”


(Thanks, Laura!)

Faithful Citizenship

October 23, 2016

faithful-citizenship-logo-vertical-english-smallAs long as we’re focusing on citizenship this week (and this election thing is coming up pretty soon), here’s a little something for you grown-ups.

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship is a short document from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that gives guidance on all sorts of issues that are relevant these days.

This statement represents our guidance for Catholics in the exercise of their rights and duties as participants in our democracy. We urge our pastors, lay and religious faithful, and all people of good will to use this statement to help form their consciences; to teach those entrusted to their care; to contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue; and to shape political choices in the coming election in light of Catholic teaching. The statement lifts up our dual heritage as both faithful Catholics and American citizens with rights and duties as participants in the civil order.

No matter where you stand on this election, we think you’ll agree that “civil and respectful dialogue” would be helpful, and we all have the continued responsibility to continue to form our consciences.  You can read the whole document (under 40 pages) or just use the detailed table of contents to find the parts that are of most interest to you.

Besides the document, you can find a video and other relevant resources on the USCCB’s site.

Lesson Notes: Christian Citizenship

October 22, 2016


When we think about citizenship as adults, our minds tend to go to issues and voting and things like that but this lesson starts at the much more basic level of what it means to be a member of a community.  All of us are part of many different communities: parish, school, state, city, teams, etc.  But being part of a family is the most foundational of all communities.

The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society.  Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2207

Really, it’s in learning the rights and duties and responsibilities of being a family member that makes the best foundation to understanding the issues that will make your children into responsible grown-up citizens (and voters) someday.

How does Jesus fit into all of this?  He is the one who most wants us to live in community with one another.  Our relationships here on earth are a reflection of the Holy Trinity living together in a perfect community of love, and they are leading us to someday be citizens in heaven!All About Jesus logo

Lesson Notes: Stewardship

October 15, 2016


I love this lesson because it focuses on gratitude, and this virtue helps us to fight against so many things that are wrong with modern culture: selfishness, materialism, greed, being self-centered, etc.

Stewardship is the idea that all good things are gifts from God and He entrusts them to us for care and wise use.  Pretty nice, eh?  Parents, this is one area where your Christian witness really speaks volumes, for better or worse.  I guarantee your kids know when you share and give and help others.  They see what you put in the Sunday collection, how you use your time, and what you spend on other things.  This is definitely your chance to talk with them about all those choices.  Why do you volunteer here and give there?  Have you heard God calling you to those actions?  attitude-of-gratitude

No matter how old your kids are, I recommend you start with the booklet entitled An Attitude of Gratitude.  It’s the base line of the whole conversation, reminding everyone that all we have and are comes from God.  How are we going to respond?

The basic activity is the My Gift to the Lord cards.  Cut them apart, have your kids fill them out, and put them in next Sunday’s collection.  The genius behind it though is that it helps you all think in terms of all the different ways you can give back to God.  Prayer is a gift.  Gratitude is a gift. Doing nice things for others is a gift.  Giving money is a gift, and so on.  So many thing qualify under the oft-heard “time, talent, and treasure” banner and it’s an excellent habit to think of your daily actions in these terms.

Older kids can go on to learn what the Bible has to say on the topic.  Actually, it’s quite a lot, but we’ll be focusing on a few verses, mainly from the Gospels.  This is a good chance to practice the very practical skill of looking up verses in the relaxed environment of your home.

Continuing with the topic of gratitude, have your older kids spend some time  with the In All Things Give Thanks booklet.  Each page has a theme and an invitation to count blessings. It’s intended for use by your older Family Formation kids, but would also work well as a group project for your family prayer time over the upcoming week.

One more thing – Father Livingston gave an excellent homily on the leper who came back to give thanks.  You can listen by clicking here.

Art for November Prayer Tables

October 13, 2016

This month we’re learning about Saints; who is called to be one, what it means to be one, how to become one, and there are a number of directions we could take.   In the past, I’ve recommended a picture of Saint Martin of Tours (who plays a prominent role in the lesson), and making good use of all the statues and holy cards you may have in your collection.  This time I’m going with something different.

This stained glass piece is amazing.  I wish I could tell you more about it, but the post link seems to be dead.


Even so, there are some obvious lessons in a beautiful setting. It’s heaven with Jesus enthroned in the center with the Holy Spirit and God the Father above Him.  St. Joseph (with lilies) is just to his left and Mary is to His right.  Other than that, the most striking things may be the color, the variety  and just how densely packed it all is!

Heaven is never too full for more and there is a place for every person who ever has or ever will live.  (You too!)  That’s a lot of people, and we get that sense here.  A few of them are looking out at us, but mostly they are rightly focused on Jesus, giving Him eternal praise.

If you use this in a classroom, pass it around so all your students can see the variety.  Besides the angels, there are people of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds.  With just a glance, I can see popes and peasants, young and old, people dressed in all sorts of religious habits, and others in more ordinary clothing.  Again, the emphasis is that we are all invited and there is a place for everyone.

If you’re a catechist at COSP I’d be glad to print one for your classroom prayer table.  Just email me.  For everyone else, you can find it here

In Today’s In-box

October 12, 2016

This is the Kraft family working together to get the feasts of the liturgical year all put together. It went quite well!


After a couple times through this program, it really is amazing at how much the little kids pick up from just living in a home that embraces the church year. I was impressed by how much the middle kids knew! And that the big kids still join us for our lessons. Love this program!

Lesson Notes: Liturgical Seasons

October 11, 2016


When I redecorate, it’s probably because I’m bored with tan and want to switch to blue, or something is worn and it’s time to upgrade.  When the Church redecorates (thankfully), it’s a lot more meaningful.  Everything the Church does is to lead us closer to Jesus and that is exactly what is happening with the Church redecorates each season.

The colors, vestments, tone of the music, and all the other elements of this “redecoration” all mean something and understanding that something is what this lesson is all about.

The core of the lesson (pages 2-4) is an overview of each of the major seasons and a few basic universals about each.  We have activities at three different levels, and ask you to look at them ahead of time to choose which will be best for your kids.

  1. Most basic is the My Liturgical Coloring Book.  Simply have your child color the appropriate page as you talk about each season.  If you only have younger children, I would recommend stopping here.
  2. If your kids are a little older or if you have more than one doing Family Formation, I’d recommend you add the Liturgical Pursuit Game as a fun way to review what you’ve just learned.  Playing a game adds a little fun and competition and makes the lesson memorable.  In this case, you can alter a single detail and make the game either a little more controlled or more lively.  We’ve provided you with a piece of paper in each of the major liturgical colors.  The intent is to cut each into a piece for each player.  As you go through the questions, your kids will hold up the piece representing the correct answer.  The alternative is to just let them shout it out.  Quiet or crazy – it’s your call.
  3. The third activity plays at three levels and all are just a little more advanced.  The prep involves cutting out the flashcards and all levels involve putting them in order and matching them with the proper liturgical color. If your family did this lesson three years ago (or six or nine), this activity is for you!

priestdollThis is also a good place to remind you to be dressing your priest paper doll and following the Liturgical Calendar that you may have received from Family Formation.  They’re more relevant than ever while we’re studying this topic and there are big color changes coming up soon with Advent and Christmas which will add interest to the activities.

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