Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 31: St. Ignatius Loyola

St. Ignatius was a soldier for Spain, but he was very badly wounded and had several operations. While he was recovering, he read a book about saints, and realized he wanted to live the way they did. At first, he would pray seven hours a day, and he had holy visions. Then he went through a very hard time that left him very sad and doubtful. He used what he learned from these trials to write “Spiritual Exercises,” which has helped many, many Christians ever since.


Saint Ignatius prayed for seven hours a day, because he was living a monastic life. Laypeople usually can’t take the time to pray like that, but for families that are on summer vacation, you can pause every hour for just a few minutes to say a prayer together following what Saint Ignatius taught people in his “Spiritual Exercises.” For families with parents who work outside the home, you can do these all at once in less than half an hour.

Family Devotions based on Saint Ignatius’ “Spiritual Exercises”

Prayer #1: Lord, we thank you for your perfect, unconditional love. Help us to always stay close to you, and help us give you everything we have and everything we are, so that you are glorified in all ways. Amen.

Prayer #2: Lord, everybody in the world needs to be rescued from sin. Please help us! Heal us from fear, guilt, and other wounds that come from our sins. Help us flee from sin and trust you to lead us in the way of truth and light. Amen.
Prayer #3: Lord, sometimes when we sin, it’s hard to know that we are totally forgiven. Please help us trust Your gift of salvation. Amen.
Prayer #4: Lord, help us hear Your call to follow You. We want to be your disciples and do the work You have given us to do. Help us hear Your “still, small voice” and help us always be ready, willing and brave enough to follow. Amen.
Prayer #5: Lord, every day, we have the choice to follow You. Help us to reject what is evil, like greed, fame and pride. Help us dedicate our lives to serving You. Amen.
Prayer #6: Lord, give us strength to carry out the what You ask us to do – to tell people about Your great compassion and to help them see their need for Your salvation. Amen.
Prayer #7: Lord, we want to live in your love and your joy. Help us see the reality of your deep love and everlasting mercy. Amen. 
Saint Ignatius Loyola, pray for us!
More reading for parents:

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 30: St. Peter Chrysologus


St. Peter Chrysologus was born in Italy in 406. The name "Chrysologus" means "golden-worded". People called him that because as a priest and bishop, he gave short, easy to understand homilies. He also taught people to do corporal and spiritual works of mercy by his own example, and he encouraged everybody to go to Mass as often as possible to receive the Holy Eucharist. In the year 1792, St. Peter Chrysologus was named a Doctor of the Church. 


Take St. Peter Chrysologus' advice today: go to Mass, listen carefully to the homily, and as a family, talk about what you learned from it. 

Saint Peter Chrysologus, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29: St. Martha

Saint Martha
in a Flemish illumination
from the Isabella Breviary


Saint Martha was the sister of Lazarus and Mary. In the Gospel of Luke, we learn that when Jesus and His disciples came to visit Martha and her family, she immediately set to work to serve them, but her sister Mary simply sat and listened to Jesus’ teaching. Martha didn’t think this was fair and asked Jesus to tell Mary to get to work. Instead, Jesus told Martha that it was better that she join them, rather than worrying about what was serving. Martha is a saint who understands that sometimes the things we “should” be doing are not as important as spending time with Jesus.


Like Martha, it’s really easy for us to start out our days with all the chores and other responsibilities that we need to take care of. And then when that’s done, we want to relax or play. That makes it easy to forget all about Jesus! Start your day with prayer today as a family. Then work together so that everything that must be done is done as quickly as possible so there is still time to relax at the end of the day. Don’t forget to pray together before bed, too! This way, your family can make spending time with Jesus the most important thing you do all day.

Saint Martha, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28: Saint Innocent I

After Innocent became pope in 401, he worked very hard to keep Christians focused on what Jesus taught. Some Christians were making up different things, like saying Adam and Eve’s sin did not affect them, and that Jesus was only a “good example” not the Savior of the world. Pope Innocent I taught the truth about Adam and Eve and Original Sin to help Christians stay close to Jesus.


Read the story of Adam and Eve in your bible. Why did they eat from the forbidden tree? What happened after they ate that fruit? Because Adam and Eve brought sin to all mankind, we all have the urge to disobey our parents, teachers or other authority figures. This is why Jesus died to save us. 

Saint Innocent I, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27: St. Pantaleon


St. Pantaleon was a famous Christian doctor, but because he was surrounded by people who did not believe in Jesus, he eventually gave up his faith. A holy priest talked to him, and Pantaleon returned to the Church. Unfortunately, that meant he was arrested and sentenced to die if he would not renounce Jesus. Pantaleon refused to make the same mistake twice and proclaimed Jesus. Soldiers tried to burn him with torches, but a holy vision appeared, healing Pantaleon and putting out the flames. Next, the soldiers tried to throw him into a tub of boiling lead, but the fire under the pot went out and the lead immediately became cold and solid. Pantaleon was then tied to a huge stone and thrown into the sea, but the stone floated. The soliders then imprisoned Pantaleon with wild animals that were supposed to tear him limb from limb, but the animals acted just like gentle pets. Then he was tied to a large wheel to be beaten, but the ropes snapped and the wheel shattered. Finally, one of the soldiers was told to cut off his head, but the sword bent. All the soldiers became Christians, too!


It’s hard to imagine having as much faith as Saint Pantaleon did when he was being persecuted. Today, the kind of persecution we face as Christians is a lot less scary. We might get made fun of or insulted, but we probably won’t be tied to a big rock and thrown into the sea. Still, it can be hard to stand up for Jesus when people are being mean to us. Pray that God will give you and your whole family the strength to withstand persecution.

St. Pantaleon, pray for us!

More reading for parents: 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

July 26: Saint Joachim and Saint Anne

Saints Anne and Joachim
with the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Josef Anton Mahlknecht (1859)


Traditionally, Jesus’ grandparents – the parents of Mary – are called Joachim and Anne. One legend says that Joachim and Anne were childless for many years before Mary was born. They dedicated Mary to God and raised her to love and serve the Lord. We know this because when the angel appeared to Mary to tell her that she had been chosen to become the mother of Christ, Mary was ready and willing to do anything God asked of her.


Grandparents are really important in families. Usually, they’re the ones who taught your parents how to be parents, just like Joachim and Anne taught Mary how to be a good, godly mother for Jesus. Today, tell Joachim and Anne “Thank you,” for teaching Mary to be faithful to God, and then write notes to your own grandparents, thanking them for what they have done for you and your parents. (If your grandparents have died, you can still thank them, just by talking to them.

Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, pray for us!

More reading for parents:
Saint Joachim at Catholic Encyclopedia
Saint Anne at Catholic Encyclopedia 

Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25: Saint James the Greater

St. James the Greater
by El Greco (ca 1600)


James and his brother John were fisherman before Jesus walked into their lives. Not only would James become one of the twelve Apostles, he was one of Jesus’ closest friends, along with his brother and Simon Peter. Usually, James is called “James the Greater” because there was another apostle named James who was younger. But Jesus gave James and John the nickname, “Sons of Thunder.” James saw Jesus transfigured in glory, witnessed miracles and was called to stand by Jesus during His agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane the knight before He died. After Jesus returned to heaven, James helped the Church grow until he was murdered for being a Christian. 


What kind of men would get the nickname “Sons of Thunder”? Loud or quiet? Today, you can make a thunder tube. (Instructions adapted from Rachel Bales’ blog

Empty potato chip can, packing tube or oatmeal container, etc.
Metal coil (about 18” long )
Glue gun
Decorative paper to cover the cylinder (or plain paper, stickers, crayons, etc.)


1. An adult should use the awl (or scissors) to poke a small hole in the bottom of your can/tube/container.

2. Work a little of your metal coil into the hole. An adult can secure the coil into place using the glue gun. Let cool.

3. Cut the decorative paper to size and secure to the container with tape.

4. To make thunder, hold the canister with the spring hanging down and wiggle it gently. 
Saint James the Greater, pray for us!

More reading for parents:
Catholic Online

SPECIAL NOTE: Today is a special day of fasting and prayer for Christians who are facing persecution in the Middle East, especially Iraq. Literally, they are being threatened with death. Please give up at least on meal for them and focus your prayers during that meal time on the issue. Thank you!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 24: Saint Christina


Saint Christina’s father was rich and powerful, but he didn’t believe in Jesus. He had some golden idols that he worshiped instead. When Christina became a Christian, she learned that idols were bad, so she broke them into pieces and gave the gold to the poor. Her father was really angry with her. He had her beaten with metal rods and thrown in a dungeon until she gave up her faith. Christina wouldn’t do it. Her father and the governor who took over after him tried to kill Christina through fire, drowning, poisonous snakes and more, but God kept protecting her. Finally, she was killed with arrows.


Here’s a tasty treat to celebrate Saint Christina’s faith.

Saint Christina’s Arrows*

Pretzel rods
Chocolate chips
Vegetable oil

Step 1
1. With a serrated knife, saw the ends of the rectangular cookies diagonally, so that you have parallelograms that will serve as the fletching (feathers) on the arrows. 

Step 2
2. Divide the wafer in half by slicing through the filling so you have two identical, thin pieces. (Younger kids can do this with a butter knife.) 

Step 3
3. Melt the chocolate chips with one teaspoon of vegetable oil. Stir until smooth. Coat one (or more) pretzel per person in chocolate – set on waxed paper to dry. (If it's hot in your kitchen, you may want to put them in the fridge or freezer to speed this step up.  WOH Moms or Moms of Many tip: Buy pretzels already dipped to skip this step. Or try tube-shaped cookies like these (if you don't mind the extra sugar). Move on to step 4 before you start another pretzel!

Step 4
4. While the chocolate is still wet, press the edge of one of the wafer cookies pieces on each side so that they stick out. If you took the Step 3 shortcut, melt a few kisses or chocolate chips and dip one edge of the wafer cookies into that to "glue" them onto the pretzel or tube cookie. 

Step 5
5. Unwrap one Hershey kiss per pretzel. When all the pretzels are done and dry, reheat the melted chocolate chips (if necessary), and dip the uncoated end of the pretzel into the chocolate to coat. Press a kiss onto the end to serve as the arrowhead.

Return to the waxed paper and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 

*We developed this recipe because our youngest daughter is named Christine. 

Saint Christina, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

History from Saint Christine Parish, Marshfield, MA

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July 23: St. Bridget of Sweden


When Saint Bridget, or Birgitta as she was called, was very young, she had a very clear vision of Jesus that she remembered all her life. She got married and had eight children. After her husband died, she understood that God was calling her to organize a new religious order for women. Bridget started to do what God asked her to do, but then she felt that she was called to Rome where she saw visions regarding the Church. She died as an old woman who never saw any of her work for Christ finished, but full of faith in Him. This is why she is called the Patroness of Failures. However, she did write 15 wonderful prayers, which many people still pray today.


Today, write your own prayer to God. Remember to start with a sentence telling Him how much you love Him. Then, state a request. Finish by thanking Him and saying, “Amen.”

Saint Bridget of Sweden, pray for us!

More reading for parents: 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22: St. Mary Magdalene


Before she met Jesus, Mary Magdalene did not follow God. But even though she was a terrible sinner, Jesus loved her and healed her. Mary went to a dinner Jesus was invited to, washed His feet, and dried them with her hair. Then she anointed His feet with perfume. Jesus told Mary that her faith had saved her. Mary became of Jesus’ most humble and faithful followers. She stood by Him when He was Crucified, with His mother. And she was one of the first to see Jesus after He rose from the dead.


Mary Magdalene’s story is one of the most beautiful stories of Jesus’ mercy in the Bible. Choose a one of these pictures to color and hang it in your room as a reminder that Jesus loves us no matter what sins we commit.

Saint Mary Magdalene, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21: St. Lawrence of Brindisi


Born in Brindisi, a town in the Naples region of Italy, Saint Lawrence  became a Capuchin brother when he was only 16 years old. He loved to study and learned theology, philosophy and several languages. After he was ordained a priest, he accomplished many great things. At one point, the whole country of Hungary was being threatened by invaders, and Saint Lawrence helped round up an army to defend the nation. He also wrote many books explaining the Bible. After he was canonized and named a Doctor of the church, he was also named the patron of his home town, Brindisi


Tonight in honor of Saint Lawrence, prepare a pasta supper that is commonly served in Brindisi. It’s easy!


Spaghetti a la Brindisi, courtesy of Catholic Culture

Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20: Saint Wilgefortis


Saint Wilgefortis (sometimes called Saint Liberata or Saint Kummernis or Saint Uncumber) was one of nine daughters born to the King of Portugal. He wanted Wilgefortis to marry the King of Sicily, but she had promised God she would never marry and that she would live only for Jesus. She prayed for help to get out of the marriage, and as the legend goes, she miraculously grew a beard and a mustache. The King of Sicily didn’t want to marry her any more. Her father was so angry, he had her crucified. 


Imagine how silly Saint Wilgefortis must have looked with a beard and a mustache. It was an unexpected way for God to answer her prayers, wasn’t it? So, today’s activity is a little unexpected, too. Make mustaches out of cardstock and attack them to lollipop sticks and/or drinking straws following these instructions:

Mustache on a stick at PBS.  (Use black card stock or construction paper if you like, and lollipop sticks, which are easier to glue because they are made out of paper. 

Saint Wilgefortis, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

July 19: Saint Arsenius the Great


Saint Arsenius started out with a privileged life. His dad was in the Roman Senate, and Arsenius worked as a tutor for the children of the emperor. He also inherited a lot of money from a relative, so he had everything he could want. But one day, he prayed, “O God, teach me how to be saved,” and the Lord’s voice came to him, quoting Matthew 16:26: "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" Asresenius left everything behind and went to live with the desert monks in Egypt. He found peace in living a quiet, humble life with Christ.


Read Mt 16:21-27 in a children’s bible and talk about it. Why do you think Peter said what he did when he found out that Jesus must be killed? Do you think Jesus understood why Peter was upset? Do you think Jesus answered Peter in an angry way or with love and understanding? Jesus is asking us to be willing to give up anything to follow Him? Do you think that would be easy to do or hard to do? Pray that God will make your heart willing to give up whatever He needs you to give up.

Saint Arsenius the Great, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Friday, July 18, 2014

July 18: Saint Frederick


Saint Frederick was a priest who taught new Christians about the faith. When he became a bishop some years later, he had a pretty frustrating job, because a lot of people were mixed up about what it meant to live as Christians. Saint Frederick would try to explain the way they were supposed to go with gentleness and love, but some of the people didn’t want to give up their sinful ways, and they hated him.


Saint Frederick never gave up on trying to help people go in the right direction. Today, make a traffic light out of an egg carton to help you remember how to live the way Jesus wants us to live.


1 egg carton (makes enough for four children)
Either red, yellow or green kid-friendly tempera paint and paint brushes OR red, yellow and green construction paper and school glue
Black marker or crayon
Hole punch


1. A parent needs to cut the bottom off an egg carton, cut it in half lengthwise and then crosswise so each child has a section of three cups in a line. Turn your section of egg carton bottom side up so that the cups become the “light bulbs”.

2. If you are using paint, paint the bottom of the cups red, yellow and green to be the lights and set aside to dry. If you are using construction paper, cut 2” circles and proceed to step 3 before gluing them onto the egg carton.

3. Use the black marker to write “STOP” on the red bulb and “Don’t sin” in smaller letters under that. Write “SLOW” on the yellow bulb and “down and pray” underneath. Write “GO” on the green bulb and “do what God wants” underneath.” If you are using construction paper, you can glue the circles onto the egg carton now.

4. Punch a hole about 1/2” from the edge of the egg carton, centered over the top the red bulb. Thread a string through the stoplight to hang it in your room. (When you hang it, the red should be on top and the green should be on the bottom). 

Saint Frederick, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 17: Carmelite Nuns of Compiegne


Most people outside of France are not aware that it was once illegal  for French people to be Christians. During the French Revolution, which started in 1789, the government ordered a Carmelite monastery in Compiegne to close. The nuns at the monastery split up, but four years later, 16 of them were found guilty of living in a religious community. They were arrested, taken to Paris and sentenced to death. As they walked to their execution, the sisters sang “Salve Regina,” a Latin hymn of “Hail Holy Queen.” This is a prayer to the mother of Jesus, our Salvation, asking her to pray for us as we suffer. The people of Paris were troubled by the sisters' execution, and ten days later, the ruler who banned Christianity was taken out of office, and a new government that welcomed Christians was put in place. So, the martyrdom of these sisters ended up making things better for all of France. 


Today, listen to the hymn, “Salve Regina” or watch it on YouTube (Latin lyrics and English translation included on this version). Sing along if you can. Give thanks to the Lord for the faithfulness of these nuns who would rather die than deny their faith in Christ.

Carmelite Nuns of Compiegne, martyrs for Christ, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Catholic Answers
Tradition in Action

Preparation for tomorrow's activity:

Parents of young children might find it helpful to do a little set-up work for tomorrow's activity. Cut the bottom of an egg carton in half lengthwise and then crosswise so have a strip of three egg cups for each child. If you are using construction paper instead of paint, cut 2" circles from the red, green and yellow paper, allowing for at least one of each color per child. (You may want a few extras as backups.) 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 16: Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel/Feast of the Brown Scapular


On July 16, 1251 (762 years ago), Saint Simon, leader of the English monestary of the Order of Carmelites (a religious order), saw a vision of Blessed Mother. In the vision, Saint Mary showed him a brown scapular and promised many benefits to people who would wear it, if they were invested by a priest and lived a Christian life, staying close to Jesus. Today, the brown scapular is considered a sacramental in the Church. It’s not a good luck charm, but it a sign that a person wants to follow Jesus like Mary did, staying open to God’s will, being open to God’s will, praying at all times and watching for God’s presence in our everyday lives.
One kind of brown scapular


A person does not have to belong to a Carmelite order in order to wear the brown scapular. You can purchase them at any Catholic bookstore, buy them online, or even receive one free online or from a Carmelite community if there is one where you live. You can evenmake your own. Once you have brown scapulars, you need to see a priest to be initiated, which is a short, simple rite. This initiation is permanent, so even if you break or lose your scapular, you can get a new one and continue to receive all the benefits of faith and hope that people receive from wearing them.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, giver of the brown scapular, pray for us!

More reading for parents: 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July 15: St. Bonaventure


When Saint Bonaventure was born, his parents called him John. When he was four years old, he became dangerously sick. In fact, his doctor was convinced the little boy would die. John’s mother prayed to God and then hurried to see Saint Francis of Assisi to ask him to pray for her son. Saint Francis felt sorry for the poor mother and agreed to pray for John. As the saint was praying for little John, he saw a vision from God about John’s future and cried out “O buona entura”, which means, “O, good fortune!” John recovered so well, he was never sick again for the rest of his life, and he went on to be a wonderful priest and helper to many people. And everybody called him “Bonaventure” after that, remembering Saint Francis’ prophesy.


Just like “Bonaventure” has a special meaning, there are many people in the Bible who have names that have special meaning. Saint Peter’s name means “Rock,” which is significant because Jesus said to him, “On this Rock, I will build my church!” Do you know what your name means? You can look it up on this website, or in a baby naming book. Find out what your name means and think about how to use your name as a clue for how you will serve God.

Saint Bonaventure, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha


Kateri was born into the Mohawk Native American tribe more than 100 years before the United States became a nation. Kateri’s face was badly scarred by small pox when she was very little. After her mother died, nobody wanted her. Then, when she was a teenager, Kateri became a Christian after learning about Jesus from a missionary, and her whole tribe hated her. She moved to Canada to live with a colony of Christian Native Americans, where she was very happy. Just as she died, all the scars on her face were miraculously healed and she was as beautiful on the outside as she was on the inside.


Saint Kateri used to carve crosses into the trees around her village to make her own little shrines for prayer. You can do something similar by collecting twigs from your back yard and using colorful yarn to tie two straight twigs together to form a cross. (Parents can cut the twigs into smaller sizes as necessary.) Hang your crosses from the trees in your yard or at other places you visit frequently, like your church or a public park.

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 13: St. Francis Solano


Saint Francis Solano joined the Franciscan Observance order of religious brothers when he was 20 years old. He served other people with all his heart, even taking care of very sick people despite getting sick himself. Later, he became a missionary. He loved Jesus very much and wanted other people to love Him, too. Francis divided his time between telling people about Jesus and just praying silently. The last words he ever said were, "Glory be to God".


If you think about it, our society is a very noisy one. We hardly ever experience complete silence. Today, set aside one hour for the whole family to be silent. You can use gestures if you need to, but otherwise, try to be completely quiet – don’t even whisper. At the end of the hour, say, “Glory be to God!”

Saint Francis Solano, pray for us!

More reading for parents: 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

July 13-19 Supply List

Here is the supply list for the suggested activities for next week, July 13-19. Feel free to improvise or to adjust activities to fit your family's preferences, skills and time allotment.

Monday: Time to allow the kids to gather twigs (at home or elsewhere), brightly colored yarn

Tuesday: Internet access or baby name book that includes meaning of names

Wednesday: Brown scapulars for the whole family; a short (10 minutes) appointment with a priest to be initiated, if you have not already been initiated. 

Thursday: Lyrics, recording or YouTube video of Salve Regina

Friday: Empty egg carton (paper maché style works best, but styrofoam ones work also); red, yellow and green paint or construction paper/glue, string, scissors, hole punch (optional: black spray paint)

Saturday: Children’s bible: Matthew 16.

July 12: St. John Gaulbert


Saint John Gaulbert was raised to know and love Jesus, but when he was a young man, he forgot all about Christ and lived only to please himself. Then something terrible happened. John's only brother, Hugo, was murdered. John decided to take justice into his own hands and kill his brother's murderer. One Good Friday, he had the murderer cornered and drew his sword to kill him. But the other man fell on his knees and begged John to let him live, in the name of Jesus. John felt a holy forgiveness in his heart. He put away his sword, hugged the murderer and then went to church to ask forgiveness for his sins. Soon, John became a humble and holy monk who helped many people. 


John had every right to be angry at the man who murdered his brother, but the Holy Spirit changed his heart and enabled him to forgive. Many times, we keep anger in our hearts instead of forgiving somebody who did something wrong to us, but this is not how Christians are supposed to live. Today, ask God to help you forgive anybody you are still angry with. 

Saint John Gaulbert, pray for us!
More reading for parents: