Archive for the ‘Sue's Suggestions’ category

Partners in the Gospel: Holy Heroes

May 24, 2018

Partners in the Gospel

Every now and then something comes to our attention that fits really well with our mission of family catechesis, and we’re glad to share it with you.

Holy Heroes definitely falls into that category with their goal to help you bring the joy of the Faith to your family.  Not only do they produce many original products, they also have a carefully curated selection of other things available for sale.  (We’ve never found one we wouldn’t highly recommend!)

This time, we encourage you to take a look at one of their new ventures: St. Mary’s Messenger magazine.  It’s a quarterly publication for kids aged 7-12.  Kids love to get mail, and a subscription to St. Mary’s Messenger will provide stories, puzzles, and games, and more – all designed to help your child grow in their love of the Catholic Faith.

They sent me a sample copy from last year’s fall/Advent season that includes recipes and other suggestions for celebrating the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a St. Andrew’s Christmas Novena bingo game, and details about their penpal program.  (Penpals!)

They’ll be opening up subscriptions again sometime this summer, so I suggest you get on their mailing list to keep up with the latest, and consider subscriptions for godchildren and grandchildren as well.  (Click here and scroll to the bottom to join.)

St Mary's M

Lesson Notes: Marian Apparitions

April 28, 2018

Marian Apparitions

Just in time for May – Mary’s month!

Right up front, I want to make a suggestion:  If the topic of the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing around the world at different places and different times in history (including today) is new to you, skip right over to page 2 and start with some background information.

Everything we know about God has come about because He revealed it to us.  These revelations are either categorized as public or private.  Public revelation includes Holy Scriptures and the teachings of the Church (the Deposit of Faith).  Public revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle and there is no possibility for new revelation until Jesus returns for us someday.  Public revelation is there for all Christians to believe and trust.

But, there’s another category, private revelation, which will often involve a vision or a message from an angel, a saint, or the Blessed Virgin Mary.  These happen all the time, but since the message is usually just for one person or a small group, they are typically not officially approved by the church.  Over the centuries, there have been a number of apparitions that have the Vatican’s Seal of Authenticity approval and we’re learning about some of them in this lesson.

You can still be a super-solid Catholic even if you never have a special devotion to any of them, but the messages of approved apparitions are still worthy of our study.  So with that … The Travel Guidebook will lead you through a brief study in three steps so your family can become more familiar with five approved apparitions.

  • TYounger Saints iconhe core of each section is the guidebook entry and the audio link to Mary’s message.  (You have a link address in your Home Lesson packet.)  Start with these pieces no matter how old or young your kids are.
  • If you’d like to go deeper, find the apparition site on your map and color it.  This activity is a great way to get older kids involved since they have probably already developed some map skills and are comfortable with an abstract activity like that.  If you have a globe, you can also find where you are and then point out where the apparition took place.  For younger kids, just saying it happened on “the other side of the world” may be enough.
  • And for review or for those who like playing games, prepare the Mary Memory Game cards to learn the images, locations and the names of the visionaries (those who heard the message).

<3 Love this!

April 23, 2018

FF journal

Lesson Notes: Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy

April 21, 2018

Keeping the Lord's Day

Again this week we’re going to start with an Old Testament reference and look at how Jesus instructs us to live it out under the New Covenant.  The most obvious change is the day we celebrate (now Sunday instead of the original Jewish Sabbath on Saturday).

Our parish priest has been known to teach that we were created ON the 6th day, but FOR the rest and worship on the 7th, so how do we honor Him on that day?  The Lord’s Day is meant to be the high point of our week where we not only worship but we bring all our offerings (good deeds, acts of love and sacrifice, etc.) from the prior week with us.  When your priest is lifting up the offerings of bread and wine to God and praying that they will be acceptable, you should also mentally lift up your own offerings from the previous week and imagine them on the altar with everything else being given to God.

May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of His name, for our good, and the good of all His holy Church.

Shortly after that, as you receive Holy Communion, you will get the graces you need to go out again and start the cycle all over.  Hearing God’s Word, a good homily, and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ equip you to do more acts of love that you will bring back to Mass the next Sunday, and so on.  It’s really a pretty amazing set-up!

The activity for this lesson is a game that will help your whole family learn about some ways to cooperate with those available graces by keeping the Lord’s Day holy.  The preparation is simple – just gather a small token for each player and cut all the cards apart and mix them up, face down.  From there, simply take turns drawing a card and following the instructions.  “Spend your time during Communion in prayer thanking Jesus for the gift of the Eucharist,” move forward 6 spaces.  “Don’t look for your lost shoe until just before it is time to leave for Mass,” move backward 3 spaces.

You get the idea.J

Lesson Notes: Adoration and Holiness

April 16, 2018

Adoration &amp; Holiness

This month in class we learned about the physical presence of God with us and this lesson starts with a little Old Testament history on the topic.  Anyone who has seen Indiana Jones knows something about the Ark of the Covenant and the Presence of Almighty God within.  It was a beautiful sacred vessel – pure gold – housed in a special tent and within that in a special room called the Holy of Holies.  Eventually, the Temple was built in Jerusalem, but it was still the same set up where certain people wearing certain vestment and performing certain actions were the only ones permitted within.  If anyone did not meet these specific requirements, they were not worthy to be there and would be struck dead if they tried!


This lesson is a perfect example of the New Covenant fulfilling and completing the Old because when Christ came He changed everything and through the sacraments and especially the Eucharist He makes this place, our bodies, into living temples where He really and truly dwells right now.

The first activity focuses on this reality that your heart can be a tabernacle and that you should do all you can to make it a beautiful dwelling place for God.  One of the things you can do is to focus better on what is happening in the Mass so you can enter in and really meet Jesus there.  The Tabernacle of My Heart activity offers prayers for both before and after Communion (a time when it’s especially easy to get distracted by all the activity), and gives younger kids an image on which to focus and help minimize those distractions.  We recommend you take a little time to let your kids decorate their Jesus pictures as beautifully as possible.  (As much as I frown on glitter, I have to admit this may be a really good time to get it out and make your projects radiantly beautiful!)

The second project illustrates a concept so simple that it’s easy to miss just how profound it really is.  Simply put – if I believe that Christ can live in me, it’s only logical that he can live in you as well. Obvious, right?  The challenge is remembering that this applies to everyone including that annoying sibling, that mean kid at school, that terrible driver who cut you off on the freeway this morning, and even that person who wronged you so grievously that you wonder if you’ll ever be able to truly forgive him.  Like I said, profound.

Most of us will spend our entire lives trying to recognize Christ in everyone around us and we hope to help your kids start that journey with the activity entitled Heartfinder Glasses.

Jesus, Your heart lives in all people I see.  Teach me to love them as if they were Thee!

(And if you happen to get a photo of your little saints wearing their Heartfinder Glasses, send it on over.  I’d love to post a few!)

The Power of Sacramentals

March 18, 2018

But is there something more to sacramentals? Is it superstitious, a kind of “magical thinking,” as some would claim, to believe that their function is anything more than symbolic?

If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend this article by Karen Edmiston.


Lesson Notes: Sacramentals & Indulgences

March 17, 2018



An easy way to think about sacramentals is to remember all the “holy things” that are part of our lives as Catholics, and connect how they make us ready to receive the graces of the sacraments.  An easy example is the holy water at the entrance of every Catholic church.  It’s automatic to dip our fingers in as we enter, but if you give it any thought at all, you might recall your baptism where you received the amazing gift of a part in the life of Jesus.  The water might help you recall that your baptism made you part of this family you’re about to worship with.  You might think about the awesomeness of the Trinity as you’re making the sign of the cross.  You might think about the beautiful name of Jesus.  At the very least it might be a mental transition from the outside world into this time of worship.  Any of those things will make you more ready to receive the graces waiting for you in the Eucharist and it all begins with the simple act of dipping a finger in water.

In this lesson, you’ll learn that there is more to sacramentals than “holy things” – it also includes actions like genuflecting, blessings like praying before you eat, sacred times like Lent, sacred places like your church or a shrine, and words like the words of a prayer or the words of Scripture.

The basic points of this lesson are (1) to become more aware of the existence of all these things and (2) to recognize that God gives them to us because of His great love.  He wants us to grow closer to Him and literally surrounds us with little paths to make that happen.

Younger Saints iconFor your youngest kids, we definitely recommend starting with the Sacramental Scurry scavenger hunt.  It’s active and has an immediate relevance since these things are actually in your home.  Even if you don’t think you have many “Catholic” things around, you may have a Bible, a wedding ring, a nativity set, or possibly a holy card earned at a Family Formation class.  These things are a great starter list and you should be able to add blessed palms soon as you go to Mass on March 25.

Older Saints IconOlder kids should also be part of the scavenger hunt, but you may want to consider giving them the list entitled Sacramentals in Our Home and have them lead this activity by gathering everything together.  Even teens who are outside of Family Formation age can benefit by a greater awareness of the sacramentals in your home, so get the whole family involved.

You’ll also want to go through the entire lesson with the older kids because it’s there that you’ll learn about things beyond your current experience – sacramentals you hadn’t thought about and new paths to deepen your faith in God.

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