Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 31: Saint Wolfgang

Saint Wolfgang and the Devil
Munich, Germany

History

Saint Wolfgang was a German Benedictine who became the head of the monastery school. In the year 972, he became bishop of Regensburg, and he did many great things. Legend says he argued so effectively with the devil, the devil was forced to help him build a new cathedral.

Activity

It's All Hallow's Eve - or Halloween as we call it in the U.S. If you click on the picture above, you can get a printable version of Saint Wolfgang making the devil build a church. Print it out and include it with any other decorations you might have. 

Saint Wolfgang, pray for us!


More reading for parents:

Friday, October 30, 2015

October 30: Saint Alphonsus

St. Alphonsus
Luxembourg City
Photo by Cayambe

History

Alphonso wanted to be a Jesuit priest, but when his father died, he returned home to run the family business. He got married and had three children. But then one by one, his family died, and Alphonso sold the business and went back to the Jesuits. He wasn’t healthy enough for the priesthood, but he was accepted as a lay brother. He worked as the hall porter for 46 years, greeting visitors, running errands and delivering messages. Most of the Jesuits didn’t notice that Alphonsus had a wonderful ministry. Many people came to him for advice and spiritual direction.


Activity

Perhaps the reason Saint Alphonsus was so effective in ministering to people was the fact that each time the doorbell rang, he looked at the door and pictured God Himself standing outside. This is an attitude we can all develop in our own hearts! To help you remember, place a small icon or picture of the Lord on your front door.

Saint Alphonso, pray for us!


More reading for parents:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

October 29: St. Narcissus

Altarpiece of St. Narcissus
Cathedral of Girona, Spain
Photo by JoJan

History

Saint Narcissus was born at the end of the first century. He became bishop of Jerusalem when he was nearly 80 years old, and when he was almost 100 years old, he and Bishop Theophilus of Caesarea held a big meeting about when to celebrate Easter. Because Jesus was resurrected on a Sunday, they agreed Easter should always be on a Sunday instead of moving through the week (like Christmas). Narcissus also was very effective in praying for miracles. Once, his deacons didn’t have enough oil to fill the lamps at church, so Narcissus prayed over a jug of water, and the water changed to oil. He died while he was kneeling in prayer when he was 117 years old.

Activity

Did you know that some Catholic parishes have trouble paying their bills to keep the lights on? Find a parish near you that's in an impoverished area and make a donation (any amount) designated for their electric bill. 

Saint Narcissus, pray for us!



More reading for parents:

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

October 28: St. Jude

Saint Jude at the Basilica
of St. Jean de Latran in Rome

History

Saint Jude was one of the twelve Apostles and a relative of Jesus. He is called Jude or Thaddeus so that people don't confuse him with Judas Iscariot. At the Last Supper, Jude was the one who asked Jesus an important question – why had He revealed Himself to only a handful of people instead of the whole world? (John 14:22) Jesus responded by telling the Twelve that anybody who loved Him would obey Him, and God will make a home in that person. This was something that Jude took to heart. After Jesus ascended into heaven, Jude traveled through Judea, Samaria Syria, Mesopotamia, Libya, and other countries, teaching people about Christ. He also wrote an epistle (found in the New Testament), which shows his passion for teaching people to remain in the love of God.

Activity

Read the book of Jude in your Bible. Pay attention to the strong words he used to make his point. Then, memorize Jude 1:21:

Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Saint Jude, pray for us!


More reading for parents:


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

October 27: Saint Frumentius

Icon of Saint Frumentius
from the Middle Ages

History

Frumentius was born in Lebanon. He and his brother, Aedesius, were sent to Ethiopia to tell people about Jesus. They were shipwrecked on the way, but they still made it. Both were given important jobs for the Ethiopian king. After a while, Frumentius went to Alexandria to ask the bishop to send more missionaries to Ethiopia. The bishop did so, but first he made Frumentius a bishop. He and his brother are the apostles of Ethiopia.


Activity

Saint Frumentius loved the people of Ethiopia and served them with all his heart. Tonight, make a simple but tasty Ethiopian Dinner of Tsebhi Sga (beef stew), green beans, and Injera (bread).

Saint Frumentius, pray for us!


More reading for parents:

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 26: Saint Alfred the Great

St. Alfred the Great
Chester (England) Cathedral
Photo by Wolfgang Sauber

History

When Alfred was only 4 years old, he went to Rome with his dad, King Æthelwulf of Wessex (part of England). While he was there, Pope Leo the IV made Alfred his godson and anointed him king…which was surprising because Alfred had three older brothers. Alfred was a very good student. He loved to learn, and once he won a book of poetry by being the first of his brothers to memorize it. He and his parents probably thought that he would become a priest or even a bishop, but instead he had to become king after his father and three brothers died, one by one. King Alfred was a very smart and humble king. He came up with good plans to keep the Vikings from taking over his land, and he encouraged everybody to learn philosophy and theology. Alfred led by example, and he believed he was responsible for the welfare of the people who lived in his kingdom – both in this life and in the next.

Activity

Saint Alfred the Great knew how important it was for all Christians to know certain Latin texts and prayers. Today, make it a point to learn one of the Latin version of common Catholic prayers. Even small children can easily learn the Sign of the Cross in Latin. Older children could be ready for the Our Father or even the Nicene Creed. Here's a site where you can listen to prayers in Latin to help you learn them.

Saint Alfred the Great, pray for us!


More reading for parents:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

October 25: St. Gaudentius

St. Gaudentius

History

Gaudentius was a bishop who lived almost 1800 years ago. At one point, another saint, John Chrysostom, was sentenced to exile in the east. Pope Innocent sent Gaudentius and two other bishops with letters to Emperor Arcadius, asking for Chrysostom’s release. The three bishops were grabbed and thrown in prison. When they refused to support the man who had taken Chrysostom’s place, they were put on an old rickety ship that was sure to sink, but they managed to make it across the sea safely. 

Activity

Today, build a boat out of recycled items (instructions at Life at the Zoo) and add three small action figures to represent the three bishops. Float it in your bathtub or kitchen sink. Can you think of how to make the boat rickety? Then try to float it again and see what happens.

Saint Gaudentius, pray for us!


More reading for parents:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

October 24: Saint Anthony Mary Claret

St. Anthony Mary Claret
(Image is public domain in the U.S.)

History

Born in Spain, Anthony started out studying to be a weaver, but he spent all his spare time learning Latin, French and a kind of art work called engraving. When he realized God was calling him to religious life, he became a priest. Father Anthony served as a missionary and gave retreats to inspire others to holiness. In time, he was made Archbishop of Cuba, where he accomplished many great things for the Lord. All his life, he was dedicated to helping the poor and encouraging education. He built schools, libraries, a scientific laboratory, a museum of natural history.

Activity

For Saint Anthony Mary Claret, faith was the most important thing in the world, and education was a close second. He wanted everybody to have the opportunity to learn history, music, languages and, of course, spiritual things. Today, visit a museum or library and make a point of learning something new.

Saint Anthony Mary Claret, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

EWTN
American Catholic
Catholic Online

Friday, October 23, 2015

October 23: Saint John of Capistrano

Statue of St. John of Capistrano
at the Cathedral of St. Stephen
in Vienna, Austria

History

First, Saint John of Capistrano was a lawyer, and then he was governor of Perugia, a city in Naples, Italy. He later became a Franciscan priest. Father John was a marvelous preacher, and he traveled all through Europe to teach people the importance of penance and to start new religious communities. In 1456, when Father John was 70 years old, the Ottoman Empire was threatening to take over Vienna and Rome. Pope Callistus III asked John to lead a crusade of 70,000 Christians. The Holy Father instructed all other Christians to pray for the defenders, and he had all churches ring their bells at noon as a reminder. Father John and his crusaders were successful.

Activity

To this day, Catholic churches all over the world ring their bells at noon as a call to prayer. Today at noon, ring bells in your home, and then pray the traditional noon prayer for Catholics, the Angelus.

Saint John of Capistrano, pray for us!


More reading for parents: 

Catholic Encyclopedia
EWTN
Catholic Online

Thursday, October 22, 2015

October 22: Pope Saint John Paul II

Blessed John Paul II (1980)

History

In 1920, Karol Wojtyla was born in Poland. His mother died when he was nine, and his only brother died three years later. Karol’s father taught him to love and serve Christ and to look upon the Lord’s mother as his own. Karol went to university to study theatre, but when the Nazis took over Poland, they closed the school. When he was 22, Karol realized God was calling him to become a priest and started to take classes at a secret seminary run by the archbishop of Krakow. He also performed in plays that quietly condemned the Nazi government. After the war was over, he was able to complete his seminary training. He was ordained in 1946. He was made a bishop, then cardinal and in 1978, he became Pope John Paul II. As pope, he worked to unify believers and to inspire people to love Jesus more deeply. Toward the end of his life, Pope John Paul II was severely disabled by Parkinson’s disease, but he continued to serve the Lord and the Church, teaching us that everyone has a role in the Church, no matter what their limitations are. Last April, he was canonized a saint.

Activity

When Pope Saint John Paul II was a young man, he used theatre to tell important stories. This is something you can do, too. Write a short play about Pope Saint John Paul II and perform it with your family or friends.

Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us!


More reading for parents:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

October 21: Saint Gaspar

Saint Gaspar statue at
Saint Mary Catholic Church
in Philothea, Ohio, USA.
Photo by Nheyob

History

Saint Gaspar was a newly ordained priest in Rome when Napoleon’s army took over the city. Father Gaspar, along with most of the other priests, were thrown out of the city because they refused to give up their loyalty to the Pope. But Napoleon did not remain in charge. The priests returned to serve the people who had been almost entirely without Mass, confession and other Sacraments for nearly five years. Father Gaspar had a lot of work to do. He started the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood to work in the most awful places in Italy. Father Gaspar understood these people and started an all-night prayer for men who were too embarrassed to come to church during the day, when others might see them. 

Activity

Have you ever been too embarrassed to admit that you are a Christian? Or that you go to church? Have you ever been too embarrassed to pray before your meal at a restaurant? Saint Gaspar would have understood, even though he was brave enough to stand up for what he believed him when faced with a powerful army. Today, pray to Saint Gaspar and ask him to help you be courageous about your faith. 

Saint Gaspar, pray for us!


More reading for parents:


Last year, we learned about St. Hilarion and wove baskets out of paper. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October 20: Saint Paul of the Cross

St. Paul of the Cross
by Piet Phillippe

History

Paul of the Cross was born in Italy in 1694. He loved the Lord his whole life, and when he grew up, he received a vision that he would start a new congregation of religious brothers focused on the Passion of Christ, including the black robes and emblem they would wear. Paul spoke with his bishop about this and soon, the congregation was founded, wearing the exact habit that Paul had seen in his vision. They are called the Passionists, and they still wear the robes and emblem to this day. Paul lived a saintly life, working hard and living humbly in trust of God’s mercy.

Activity

God calls all different people to start religious congregations and apostolates. Some day, He might even call you to start one. Can you imagine what kind of habit you would wear? Think about what color and symbols would show other people your love for Christ, and draw and color it today. (Younger kids can color a Passionist emblem.)

Saint Paul of the Cross, pray for us!


More reading for parents: 


Monday, October 19, 2015

October 19: Saint Isaac Jogues and the North American Martyrs

North American Martyrs Holy Card, circa 1930
Published in the U.S. between 1923-1963

Copyright not renewed.

History

In the 1600s, Saints Isaac Jorgues, Jean de Brébeuf, Anthony Daniel, Gabriel Lalemant and  Noel Chabanel were Jesuit priests who went to the Huron region of Canada to teach Native Americans about Jesus. Saints Jean de Lalande and René Goupil were their helpers. But the Native Americans were having hard times. The Huron (Wyandot) tribe was dying from sickness and starvation, and the Iroquois were constantly attacking them. The medicine men of both tribes and of the Mohawks thought these Christian men were the cause of all their troubles. Father Jorgues was captured, tortured and released. He went back to Europe briefly, where he was blessed by the pope, but his love for the Native people led him back to America, no matter what he might suffer. One by one, each of the saints were killed by the Native Americans, the first Christian martyrs on the continent.

Activity

Father Jorgues and all of the other North American Martyrs loved the Native Americans and immersed themselves in Native culture. One of the Huron Native Americans made the wampum belt pictured below to commemorate the 1683 agreement between the Hurons and Jesuit missionaries for the construction of the first wooden church on Huron Lands. Wampum are purple and white beads made out of shells, and the belts that the Huron people made would tell important stories of their family histories. Today, get some purple and white plastic beads from your local craft store, some embroidery floss, a plastic needle and a piece of cardboard and make your own wampum belts following these instructions. Or, use long strips of paper and draw your stories with crayons. 
North American Martyrs, pray for us!

More reading for parents:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

October 18: Saint Luke


St. Luke the Evangelist
by José Leonardo

History

Luke was one of the first Christians. He was Greek and he was a doctor. After he learned about Jesus from the Apostles, he became one of the Apostle Paul’s helpers. He also wrote a Gospel and a detailed history about the early Church, the Acts of the Apostles. In his Gospel, Luke tells us about six miracles that the other Gospels don’t include, and he provides more of the Blessed Mother’s perspective. In fact, the “Hail Mary” comes from the first chapter of Luke.


Activity

Luke’s Gospel is full of wonderful verses. Today, memorize one that will be a great thing to remember your whole life, Luke 18:27: “Jesus said, ‘What is impossible for human beings is possible for God.’”

Saint Luke, pray for us!


More reading for parents:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 17: Saint Ignatius of Antioch

St. Ignatius of Antioch
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

History

Saint Ignatius lived at the same time as Saint Peter and the other apostles. In fact, it was Peter himself who made Ignatius bishop of Antioch. Ignatius had a profound love for Jesus, and as he traveled through Greece and Asia Minor, he wrote seven beautiful letters that encouraged other Christians to stay true to Christ. In the year 107, Ignatius was sentenced to death because he would not renounce the Christian faith. But Ignatius was not afraid. He wrote, “I would rather die and come to Jesus Christ than be king over the entire earth.”
 

Activity

Saint Ignatius’ encouraging letters were not just helpful for the people he wrote to. Throughout the centuries, Christians have read them and found strength and wisdom in his words. Today, write your own seven letters of encouragement to people you know who could use it. The letters don’t have to be long – even the words, “I am praying for you today” are full of hope and love. And even though seven letters sounds like a lot, we all can easily think of seven people who could use a kind word. Priests, religious sisters or brothers, your bishop and teachers are a good start. Do you know anybody who has health problems? What about a mom with lot of little ones? 

Saint Ignatius, pray for us!


More reading for parents:


EWTN
Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Online

Friday, October 16, 2015

October 16: Saint Gerard Majella

St. Gerard Majella,
St. Catherine Church
Montfort, Netherlands

History

Saint Gerard Majella very devoted to Christ and very wise. The legends about him say that when he was a small boy, he would go down to the church, where a statue of the Christ Child would come to life and play with him. Gerard became a Redemptorist brother when he was 23 years old. Once, a young woman accused Gerard of a crime he did not commit. He patiently accepted the ruling against him. Meanwhile, she felt so guilty, she finally confessed that he was innocent

Activity

Saint Gerard was so close to Jesus, that his touch healed the sick, and his mind understood what others were thinking before they spoke. There are many people who ask Saint Gerard to pray for them. Here is a whole list of prayers to Saint Gerard. Choose one that fits what is going on in your life today (or in the life of somebody else you know), and pray it after all your meals today.

Saint Gerard Majella, pray for us!


More reading for parents:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

October 15: Saint Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila by Peter Paul Rubens,
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Ulm, Germany
Photo by David Monnieaux

History

Teresa always thought of herself as a terrible sinner. When she was 16, her father sent her to live in a convent, not knowing there were lots of spiritual problems there. Teresa got sick and was paralyzed for three years, but she couldn’t find the will to pray. She thought she didn’t deserve to be listened to by God. It wasn’t until she was 41 that a priest convinced her to pray again. Prayer was very hard for her, but she learned to take time frequently throughout the day to talk to the Lord as a friend to a friend. Teresa resolved to get her order to go back to the simple life of poverty and prayer, but that just made the people around her angry. She started a new convent, the Discalced (Shoeless) Carmelites, but her other Carmelite sisters fought her. Throughout the years, she would start more convents, and face terrible criticism. Still, her order and her way of prayer spread all around the world, and she is now a Doctor of the Church. 

Activity

At the convents founded by Saint Teresa, the sisters all were barefoot. Today, go barefoot when you can (schools, stores and restaurants require shoes, but maybe you can wear flip-flops or sandals instead, even if it's a chilly day). Going barefoot can help you remember to talk to Jesus more often, especially if you have to be careful where you step, if your feet get cold, etc. Try it!

Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us!


More reading for parents:

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

October 14: Saint Pope Callistus I

Saint Pope Callistus I
at the Notre Dame Cathedral
in Marne, France

History

Callistus had a very hard life. He was born at the end of the second century, and he was a slave. His master put him in charge of a bank, and the bank failed. So, he tried to run away, but he was caught and sentenced to hard labor. The pope took pity on him and released him. And then the next pope after that called on Callistus for help. When that Holy Father died, Callistus was named pope instead of another option, Saint Hippolytus. After that, Hippolytus was very critical of Callistus, because he thought that Callistus showed too much mercy to sinners. Maybe Callistus understood the need for mercy because he knew how much he needed it when he was younger. Eventually, Callistus was martyred, probably during a riot in the year 222.

Activity

Our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, is a leader after Callistus’ own heart. He is full of mercy for sinners, and he has asked all of us to be merciful to others as well. Today, pray that God will give you a merciful heart. Throughout the day, do your best to show mercy to everyone you meet.

Saint Callistus, pray for us!


More reading for parents: 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

October 13: Saint Edward the Confessor

St. Edward the Confessor
Cathedral of Saint Joseph
San José, California, USA
Photo by Eugene Zelenko

History

Edward became king of England almost 1,000 years ago. He was a very good ruler. He helped the people by getting rid of some unnecessary taxes. But then he and his father-in-law, Godwin disagreed about how Edward was running things. Godwin raised an army, but Edward met with him and they were able to resolve things peacefully instead of fighting. Toward the end of his life, Edward only cared about religious things. That’s why he was called “Edward the Confessor.”

Activity

Even though Edward spoke English, it sounded a lot different then than it does today. Here is a video of an actor saying the Our Father in 11th-century English – which is exactly how Saint Edward the Confessor would have prayed it. Watch and listen. How many words do you understand?


Saint Edward the Confessor, pray for us!


More reading for parents: 


Special Note: Today is the 98th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. Over at Catholic Icing, there is a really fun "Dancing Sun" craft that I am sure your whole family will enjoy!

Monday, October 12, 2015

October 12: Saint Wilfrid

History

Saint Wilfrid lived in England in the 600s. He studied in Rome, and when he went back to England, he tried to teach the local people the Roman ways, but they didn’t want to give up their old Celtic traditions. He was made bishop of York, and he went through a lot of troubles. He was very unpopular with the local people, and several times, Wilfrid had to ask for help from the Holy See to settle matters. He spent a lot of time teaching the Saxons in southern England about Jesus and eventually retired to a monastery, where he was able to remain in prayer every day until he died. 

Activity

To honor this saint from Celtic England, color a Celtic cross. Celtic crosses are known for two things – the circle behind the cross, which represents the unending love of God – and fancy designs. Here are three different Celtic cross coloring pages (onetwo,three). Choose the one you like best and color it any way you like.


Saint Wilfrid, pray for us!


More reading for parents

Sunday, October 11, 2015

October 11: Pope Saint John XXIII

Pope Saint John XXIII

History

Born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, Saint John XXIII grew up on a farm in northern Italy.. He joined the Secular Franciscan Order, and eventually worked as secretary to the bishop, seminary teacher and publisher of the diocesan newspaper. During World War I, he worked as a stretcher-bearer for the Italian army. After the war, he was eventually made bishop of Venice. He was elected pope shortly before his 78th birthday, taking the name John. He worked very hard to prevent another world war in 1962, helping resolve what was called the Cuban Missile Crisis. He put more men from different countries into the College of Cardinals so it would be more international. He also opened the Second Vatican Council to encourage the Church to address modern issues while staying true to the Gospel. 

Activity

Celebrate Pope Saint John XXIII's first feast day since his canonization with a special tart that they make in Northern Italy, where he was born. It's called a crostata, and with apples in season, this recipe for Apple Crostata from the Barefoot Contessa is perfect. Don't worry - it's very easy if you have a food processor - still pretty easy if you use a pastry blender. (Video instructions included in the link.)  

Pope Saint John XXIII, pray for us!


More reading for parents:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

October 10: Saint Francis Borgia

Saint Francis Borgia
by Alonzo Cano

History

Francis was a very lucky man. He was a duke in charge of a region of Spain, and he had a wife he loved, eight children and a deep love for Jesus. When his wife died, Francis gave up his dukedom, and became a priest of the Society of Jesus. His superior tested Francis by making sure his life as a priest was exactly the opposite of how he had lived as a duke. He had to carry wood for the fire and sweep the kitchen. But Francis didn’t mind being humbled. He became a great preacher and important people would come to him for advice. In time, he became the head of his order, and he sent missionaries all over the world. Because of Francis’ leadership, the Society of Jesus has become a very important help to the Church in many different countries.

Activity

Saint Francis Borgia knew that no matter how important he could have been, it was more important to serve Jesus and the brothers in his order by doing the worst possible jobs. Today, do one or two of the "worst" chore in your household - without complaining - to serve your family members. 

Saint Francis Borgia, pray for us!


More reading for parents: