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The 2018 Handy Dandy List of Lenten Sacrifices

 

Lent is coming up fast (in one week actually) so if you haven’t given any thought to your Lenten sacrifices for the upcoming season, now’s the time to start thinking. Since 2013 we have been doing several “Handy Dandy Lists” for Lent. Our 2013 list was super popular and included a ton of things from personal sacrifices to things you can add into your day to resources and books. In 2014 we used the same list and just made some edits (so if you look at the 2013 list many of the links were updated in 2014).

Not wanting to keep rehashing the same list each year, I made a new list in 2015 called Your {Second} Handy Dandy List to Lenten Sacrifices and tried to add some new things, including helpful phone apps, more books, meatless meal links, etc. In 2016 fellow writer Misty updated the previous year’s list with more resources to get The 2016 Handy Dandy List of Lenten Sacrifices.

Here we are one week away from Lent 2018 and I have yet another new list. Again, I don’t want to rehash what was on the old lists, you all are more than capable of following the links to see what is there. And please do!! So many good suggestions on those links. If you want to see the best versions, check out the 2013 list (the original) and the 2016 list. They complement each other well and have the best of all four lists in them.

So now what?? What more could I possibly add to this bounty of Lenten sacrifices and resources?

Well, for this year I decided to focus on family or group activities. Some of these suggestions are best used in a family, others would work well for a group (think a Moms group, Bible study, small prayer group, any group of friends, etc.), and some could be incorporated in either. I’ll let you be the judge. And I’m not promising that there won’t be any repeats from previous lists.

Simplify Meals

Obviously, meatless Fridays are a must during Lent. But what else can you do as a family to stress the simplicity of Lent? Here’s a couple of suggestions:

  • Soup every night. Yes, every night. Doesn’t have to be fancy, can just be from a can. Or a combination of canned and homemade.
  • Abstain from meat on both Wednesdays and Fridays. I believe this is still the tradition in many other Catholic Rites, but not typically practiced among the Western Rites. Lent would be a great time to try this out.
  • In addition to your meatless Fridays, pick another day to focus on a simple meal. Soup is one good suggestion, but I bet you could come up with others too. A couple I thought of in addition to soup are rice and beans or sandwiches with raw veggies on the side.
  • Try giving up one food item for the entire family. A good suggestion might be dairy (again, one of those things that used to be traditional and still is in some cultures) or meat.
  • For some meatless meal ideas (not necessarily simple), check out our Pinterest meatless recipe board

Daily Mass

This one often comes up on our lists for Lent. But what about making it a family thing? Moms of young kids are rolling your eyes at me right now! Yes, yes, I know. I have little ones too and the thought of bringing them to Mass every single day is overwhelming. But if you can swing it, what a great way to drive home the message of a sacrificial Lent with our kids, especially if Mass is at 6:30 in the morning!

Tracking Sacrifices Visually

Kids often need a visual, and really, don’t we all appreciate visual reminders? Make sacrifices more meaningful for your kids and for you by using some sort of visual reminder. Here are a few suggestions.

  • A bean jar for each person in the family (or mini craft pom poms or whatever other small things you want to put in a jar). You could also do one jar for the whole family. Each time you perform a good deed or make a sacrifice you put a bean in the jar. This is very flexible, so you can make it work however you want for your family. My family did this one year and the beans in the jar (we used some dry kidney beans) became jelly beans on Easter morning.
  • A friend shared with me that her family does an Easter tree during Lent. She makes a big tree with branches out of construction paper and puts it up on a wall. Then they use construction paper leaves to write down any sacrifices, habits they want to start, and/or a project, etc. Over the rest of Lent, they add more leaves for prayer requests and people or causes they want to support or encourage. They also invite anyone who enters their home to add a leaf to the tree with their prayer intentions or sacrifices. Then they use some time each day to pray for everything on the tree. By the end of Lent, they have a fully blossomed tree and they leave it up for the whole Easter season. I love this idea!!

Spiritual Reading

There are lots and lots and lots of books about Lent or books that help you pray through Lent or books for kids to get the most out of Lent. We have featured several in our past lists, check those out if you have time, plus I’m sure there are many more coming out every year (check websites for TAN Books, Magnificat, Ignatius, Ave Maria Press, and others). But what I want to encourage is any sort of spiritual reading. Here’s one idea I had:

As a Benedictine Oblate, I read a section of the Rule of St. Benedict every day. In it, St. Benedict discusses how the monks should observe Lent. One particular aspect has always intrigued me, and I remember one of the monks at my monastery talking about this as well. Each monk is given a spiritual book to read for Lent (Rule ch. 48:15-16). They don’t get to choose it, it is given to them. I like this idea for a group of people or a family with older kids (probably teenagers).

Have each person bring a book they own to the group, make sure it is a spiritual book and that each person appropriately labels their book with their name and number. Use some sort of blind exchange of the books. Pair people up by drawing names, or have all the books placed in a box so people can reach in and take one without looking, or maybe have the books wrapped. Whatever you decide, just make sure that people don’t walk away with the book they brought or one they have already read. I like the idea of a book being chosen for me for Lent, trust in the Holy Spirit to put the book in front of me I need to read. Maybe it’ll be something I wouldn’t have thought to read.

If you do this, I would encourage a group meeting again shortly after Easter. Let people return the books to the owners and discuss what benefits this exercise produced for everyone or share something you learned. Especially if it was a book you might not have otherwise read.

Another idea for spiritual reading as a family is to pick a Lenten read the whole family can enjoy together and read it out loud each day. Or, make it a practice that every family member has to spend 20 minutes (or whatever you decide) reading a spiritual book each day. [See yesterday’s post for great Lenten reading ideas.] 

Service Projects

This is a great idea for a family, group of families, or any large or small group. This is a great way to teach our children acts of charity during the Lenten season.

  • Organize a meal service at a local homeless shelter
  • Go shopping as a family for your church’s food pantry or St. Vincent de Paul group
  • Collect needed items for a charity in your city or town. Contact the organization first to see what their needs are. Suggested groups to look for: pregnancy help centers, soup kitchens, food pantries, Ronald McDonald House, nursing/assisted living homes, etc.
  • If there is a Habitat for Humanity build currently taking place in your area, see if your family can get involved. Even if you have little kids, it might be something older kids and one parent can do while the younger kids and the other parent put together lunch or other food for the workers that day.
  • Put together small care packages for the homeless to hand out. Things like small personal items (toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.), a bottle of water, McDonald’s gift card, are some of the things you could include.
  • Get creative, there are lots of organizations out there that are happy to have volunteers or who need things you might be able to provide.

Grow New Family (or Group) Habits

I often look at Lent the way many people think of the New Year. It’s a great time to start something new! Why not use this time to start a new family habit that can carry over past Lent.

  • Don’t have a family prayer time yet? Make it a Lenten resolution to start. It can be something small like sharing intentions and then saying an Our Father together or doing a family rosary.
  • Review all activities of every family member and see if there are activities that can be cut. Don’t ever see your spouse or kids? Feeling like you are running a taxi service for your kids? Maybe this is a good time to re-evaluate and cut some things so that more of your family’s time can be spent as a family.
  • Start a family game night. Families should spend time together. Praying as a family is of primary importance, but if you’re already doing that and want to increase family quality time, how about a game night. Doesn’t sound very Lent-worthy, but if you are lacking family time, why can’t this be part of your Lent? Make sure everyone puts phones and other electronics away (see, sacrifice) and once a week get out some old-fashioned games or just a deck of cards.
  • Many parishes will have family events during Lent. Things like Fish Fries, soup nights, Family Stations of the Cross, etc. Why not make use of these activities to help start some family spiritual practices. Check with your parish (or surrounding parishes) to see what is available.
  • Related to the above, the Stations of the Cross can be done at home too. You can search online for coloring sheets of the stations to help keep little ones interested. Or have older kids color pictures of the stations to hang around the house. Find prayers online as well or buy a small booklet to use with your family or look for an app for the Stations. If you are a military family check out this Military Way of the Cross written specifically for military families. Please take a look and share with others you know in the military.

I hope this list inspires you to try something new with your family, or possibly resurrect an old practice. I hope everyone has a spiritually fulfilling Lent. Below are the links to our past lists as well as other Lenten links at Catholic Sistas. And please, if you have a family tradition you’d like to tell us about, leave a comment!! We’d love to hear from you.

Past lists and other CS Lent posts:

The original list from 2013, with updates in 2014: https://www.catholicsistas.com/2013/02/your-handy-dandy-list-to-lenten-sacrifices/

The {Second} Handy Dandy List of 2015: https://www.catholicsistas.com/2015/02/second-handy-dandy-list-lenten-sacrifices/

The updated 2016 list of Lenten resources: https://www.catholicsistas.com/2016/01/your-handy-dandy-list-of-lenten-resources/

All our Lent posts from our Archives: https://www.catholicsistas.com/category/liturgical-year/lent/

And finally, don’t forget our Annual Lenten Photo Challenge. More info coming soon!

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Current Events Domestic Church Faith Formation Fatherhood Ink Slingers Interviews Marriage Michelle Motherhood Parenting Spiritual Growth Vocations Year of Mercy

The Beautiful Mess of the Family: An Interview with Bill Donaghy

Family life… what does that mean? If we are to look at society we know that the term is changing at an alarming rate. The family is being redefined and reconstructed before our very eyes. The biblical foundations for the family are slowly being stripped away and in its place is a very worldly, very confused view of what the family is and should be.

Last month I wrote about this brokenness and about how Theology of the Body can help us reclaim the sanctity of the family. I shared with you the upcoming Theology of the Body Congress that will be taking place in Ontario, California on September 23-25, 2016. I promised you amazing interviews with two of the keynote speakers of the Congress. Today I present to you the first of those interviews.

Bill DonaghyBill Donaghy is an” instructor, international speaker, and curriculum specialist for the Theology of the Body Institute Certification Program.” As a husband and a father of four young children he understands how crucial it is to begin to teach our children about the Theology of the Body at a young age. His talk, The Beautiful Mess of the Family, will look to “reflect on both the ideal and the real of family life.” Apart from jokes about poop and the craziness of life (we both have threenagers!), I was fortunate enough to be able to share some time with Mr. Donaghy talking about how families can incorporate TOB into their daily lives and why it is so important to do so.

I have chosen to present my interview to you in a question and answer format. I feel that Mr. Donaghy’s words are so important in their original form that I don’t want to paraphrase or summarize. I hope you are inspired by our conversation and that your heart will be opened to the gift that the Theology of the Body can bring to your entire family.

Q. Let’s reflect on the ideal and the real of family life. What kind of difference do you see in what society projects as the ideal family and what we know as the real family?

A. The ideal family, in the culture’s mind, is where I get what I want, when I want it, and then you get what you want when you want it… peace only comes with individualism. But the family, as we understand it, is this beautiful mess where it’s not just me doing what I want to do, but I’m at your service. I’m giving myself and receiving myself through you- mother/father, mother/son daughter, brother and sister… there is an interchange between persons which becomes this school of love, school of patience, school of wonder- all these different facets of living a human life with real face time- authentic face time. And then the beautiful mess that comes from it… the beautiful mess where we give ourselves and find ourselves.

Q. Do you think that one of the things that is lacking in society’s view of the ideal family compared as what family really constitutes is sacrifice and not being willing to sacrifice?

A. In the culture we constantly want to divorce love from suffering or love from sacrifice; when love is suffering, love is sacrifice literally. There is no way around it that if you are really going to love you are going to have that kind of death to self. It might be tiny, it might be huge; but we can’t separate it. When we do, we limit it, we don’t get real love.

Wendell Berry, the philosopher, said the definition of modern marriage is two careerists in the same bed who have their own stuff going on. Is that really authentic self-discovery or giftedness? It’s not really that.

Q. So how do you think that TOB is related to family life? Most people view TOB, if they haven’t dove into it, as it’s simply telling you to “be chaste”.

A. Theology of the Body is first and foremost a sense of the unique and unrepeated human life that is in front of me; that there is a theology to this body- to mommy, to daddy, to myself, to siblings that might be in the family. So the first foundation is wonder-gift; and also in our sexually confused age- identity- masculine and feminine.

The first move of TOB is identity of myself. And then my vocation- what do I do with myself? I am called to love. And so the vocation part then becomes as the child grows respect for others, a sense of gratitude for the gift of others, a call to reverence others and never to use them but to love them. The first thing is the sense of wonder and self-discovery and then how you treat others comes naturally from it. If you understand that the image of God is before you, you aren’t going to want to misuse them or mistreat them.

Q. How do you feel that TOB can change our marriages and then move on to change our family life? How do we incorporate it into our lives? What baby steps do we take to incorporate it into our lives?

A. At the heart of Theology of the Body is the fact that we are made for communion. John Paul reflects on the fact that man and woman are made for communion and that life flows from it. This goes against the grain of everything we are taught by present culture. A fallen world says look out number one first, what’s in it for me? So when we realize that’s not who we are, not just a me generation but we- that I have to enter into communion, then that becomes a whole different paradigm, a whole different way of waking up in the morning. Just saying thank you God for the gift of life; now let me drink in the gifts around me and give myself to them in love and service.

Communion is not just you monologuing with everyone around you but dialoguing and breaking into the sphere of this person in my family which helps me break into the sphere of the people I work with, the people on the street, the people in the stores I frequent. TOB can become this platform, this way of entering into the human community. The whole entire human community is made for community. The labels start falling off; I’m not boxing people up anymore, I’m not putting them in little compartments. The teachings teach me that Atheists, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, whatever you are, whatever the identity the Christian is projecting as well is just another human heart that I am called to know and love and hopefully I will be with in a communion of saints one day… and the teaching broadens.

Is it sex education? Yes, it’s sexual and an education in human sexuality, but education for human life…it’s the living out of our identity as men and women.

Q. How do you feel that today’s troubles correspond to the breakdown of the family? How can we see the effects of incorporating TOB in our families in the greater community?

A. We are losing our identity in this very individualist culture. At the heart of discovering our identity- of who we really are- is this call to the commitment of one for another, and when we fail to do that we fail to know ourselves and we fail to know others. We have all this energy to helping so and so to discover themselves and we are allowing teenagers to have this alphabet soup of letters now- LGBTQIA- and it goes on and on and if we simply just say go find yourself out of the context of the blueprint of the family, they are going to be screwed up for life. They will never come to the sense of self without the sense of the other.

Families who know TOB will be able to offer the culture, in a really refreshed kind of way, a rediscovery of man and woman. Dr. Peter Kreeft says, “In an age when revolution becomes tradition, our traditions become revolutionary.” When we actually say there is meaning to femininity and masculinity, if you really probe in and gaze upon it, which is now labeled as this restrictive binary code, if you actually look at it…there is this amazing dance going on that makes life happen. It can’t happen any other way.

Families who know TOB can talk to anybody and they can use the language that is more existential that comes into the ache of every heart… who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? It equips teenagers to step into high school classrooms or college campuses and not be afraid or in some Catholic bubble but to say “I know who I am. My mom and dad taught me who I am and I want to share with you the wonder of who I am and who you are.” Can you imagine what a gift that is to the world? But kids have to marinate in this beauty that is Catholic anthropology. If they marinate in it for a solid 18 years with an open heart they will have something to say to the American culture and they will say it in a merciful way.

Q. How do parents incorporate this into everyday life? As parents with little children life can be insane and we get distracted…

A. I think, speaking from experience right now, the first move is my relationship with my wife Rebecca. If I can have a kind of recognition of her uniqueness and her giftedness and I go right to her when come home from work or come into the house- Daddy goes to Mommy and kisses Mommy and says how was your day and listens to her- that is already setting this blueprint of how people talk to each other.

If I can get down on my knees when I meet the kids and talk to them and listen to all their super excited stories of the day; if I can receive that, I am starting teach them in the body this kenosis, you empty yourself and get down to their level and enter into their stuff. Also throughout the day when you have this rollercoaster ride of emotions a parent has to establish that emotional equilibrium. Sometimes it is being the sponge that absorbs all this stuff but it’s showing the kids “here’s how you keep your cool, stuff happens, it’s alright, we don’t freak out we don’t lose it.” On the rollercoaster ride of emotions we have to be on the steady train… which can be hard depending on what has been flushed down the toilet… Mostly it’s language of the body. It’s a lot of the body language of us taking things and giving things in love.

Q. If you could have people take away one thing from TOB in regards to family life, what would that be?

A. Mercy. Literally… mercy. We have to have mercy. I have to have mercy on myself, mercy on the kids. Not be afraid to apologize when Daddy loses his temper or Mommy gets impatient. That mercy is a great lesson for everyone to learn. Pope Francis said the three most important words in the family are please, thank you and I’m sorry. That’s really good stuff. There is simplicity there which is all encased in mercy.

TOB

If you would like to have more information regarding the upcoming Theology of the Body Congress, please visit their website where you can learn more, register to attend, and find amazing links.

If you are interested in attending a 5 day course held at retreat centers near Philadelphia, PA where personal and leadership formation involves both your heart and your head being immersed in TOB while in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, visit the Theology of the Body Institute. Here you will find ways to become a part of the “life-giving experience of the New Evangelization.”

Stay tuned for my interview with Jason Evert coming up Monday!

 

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Charla Fatherhood Motherhood Parenting Raising Saints

I left my heart… at the university.

uniMy eldest son is entering an out of state college this fall. This is a moment we have all been dreaming about. He is anticipating the independence and excitement; my husband and I, however, while anticipating an incredible life experience for our son, are dreading the loneliness as one of our babies leaves the nest.

When friends ask me “how are you doing with his leaving?” I have replied, “I am more excited than sad.  I raised him to be a man and have an adventure.” I have to be okay with this. I will miss him like crazy, but I am more excited for him than if it were my own adventure. As confident as I feel about my boy’s ability to soar, a tiny piece of me wants him to need me still. I am feeling pretty nostalgic and not looking forward to living our family life not fully intact.

My son has been a blessing to me.  He is really a great human being. He is funny and confident, smart and friendly—the type of kid that will do really well in college.  The part of me that is saddened by the fact that he no longer “needs” me is dominated by the part of me that is so proud of the strong capable individual he has become. He can buy his own things and make his own decisions and as this makes me feel gratified, it also leaves me feeling a bit helpless.

My husband and I have chosen to send our children to Catholic schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade.  I have to say I was pretty elated when my son chose a wonderful, faithful Catholic college to attend.  It put my mind at ease a bit, knowing he is still in love with his Faith and intends on continuing to walk with the Lord. This also causes me a lot of angst.  What if he strays? What if he encounters someone who convinces him otherwise? I therefore have to keep praying for him.  I pray that he is the best man he can be.  I pray that he studies and applies himself and discovers just where God means for him to be professionally. I pray that he has Godly friends who influence him for the better and he in turn does the same for those he encounters. I pray that when he meets the woman of his dreams, she has also chosen to walk with Christ.

nestI found this perfect prayer to help me during this transition:

A Parent’s Prayer

God of life and love, you have given me this child to care for this little while.

My heart is welled with joy and thanksgiving, anticipation and anxiety, amidst a longing to be together as we have been till now.

These years of growing up have moved so quickly, so many things left undone, so much left unsaid, so much I still hope to give to my child who is taking this new step in the journey of life.

Help us as we reshape our lives to reflect this new reality of college. Show us new ways to be present to each other in love and in trust. Give me patience and help me to remember that my child is establishing new routines in freedom, routines different from my routines.

Calm my fears. Strengthen and protect my child in the midst of the challenges and temptations which surround all students. Grant greater courage that I myself may have had in standing for your truth against compromises of faith.

Provide good friends and worthy confidants for my child during these college years. Help me to give support and confidence, to discern how I am needed now, and to pass on, in my love, a measure of the strength and courage you have given me in the gift of parenting.

http://www.marquette.edu/faith/a-parents-prayer.php

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Family Matters

ernest kral family
My wife’s grandparents and her aunts and uncles

My wife and I are the only members of our family to have moved away from our hometown, the rest of our siblings chose to make their home fairly close to our parents, but we moved a mere three hours west to a smaller city.  So for the last 27 years we have raised our family and become a part of the community in Central Texas.  We were always the ones who drove in from out of town to be with family during the holidays, and we felt bad, from time to time, asking our family to come visit us to attend our children’s birthday parties, recitals, musicals, first communion and confirmations, but we all knew that even though there were a few hours between us it was important to continue to be a part of each other’s lives.  Family is important, when we only had one child, I had the opportunity to move across the country for a job, we seriously considered it, but ultimately we decided that we didn’t want to be that far away from our extended family.

We have never regretted that decision.  Only a few years after we decided not to move, my mother passed away at the relatively young age of 54.  She was admitted to the hospital complaining of back pain and the cause of her pain was determined to be complications from undiagnosed stage 4 breast cancer.  She passed away within a week of the diagnosis and my wife and I and our young children got to see her shortly after she was admitted and diagnosed with cancer and all of us, minus the young children, were able to be at her side praying the rosary when she passed away.  Despite living 3 hours away, we always took every opportunity to get together with our extended family.  My mother would drive up to see us if we needed a babysitter, as long as as we gave her at least a few hours notice.  We have lots of home videos of my parents and my in-laws on family vacations, at all those special family events both in our city as well as theirs.

I have often pondered what it is about extended family relationships that makes them so important.  There is something about getting to know your relatives and even deceased ancestors that helps you to go beyond yourself and see your life from a new perspective.  Knowing your family history allows you to know yourself better, it gives you a sense of belonging, an identity bigger than just yourself.  Let me provide an example, my Mom and Dad did quite a bit of genealogy work prior to my Mother’s untimely death in 1999, and it literally saved their marriage.  I will never know all the details and I doubt that either of my parents could put it into words, but I suspect that by researching the lives of their ancestors and hearing stories about them from older relatives who had not yet died, they were inspired by stories of those who caused them to come into existence.

6554737861_da0afe3d78_b
My kids with my brothers kids at a family funeral

Strong relationships with extended family members can be difficult, but also very rewarding.  You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.  God chose them for you, for your salvation.  Perhaps you have moved far away from your family members, what can you do?  Ultimately it is all about priorities, when you are planning out your holidays, do you plan vacations around spending time with extended family?  Do you keep in contact with your parents, brothers and sisters on a regular basis?  Do you call just to see what is happening in their lives?  Even though many people live far from their extended family, technology has made it easier to keep in touch, video calling is available to most anyone reading this post, social media helps you to share videos, photos and short tidbits about your life with family who may be across the country or the world.  If you can’t be there in person, use your imagination and come up with ways that you can stay involved in the lives of your nieces, nephews and grandparents.  The hardest part of doing this is making the decision that these relationships are important enough to be a priority in your life amongst the many activities and general business of family life.

This has been a rough year for our family and now during this time we find ourselves again facing the reality of losing another parent.  Because we know the value of these relationships, we have chosen to uproot our family and temporarily live in the city of our relatives to be with them during my Father-in-Laws illness.  We have had to make many sacrifices, it is not easy, but it is definitely the best gift we can give to our children and their grandparents.  The opportunity to be present to one another and nourish those relationships we have built with our extended family is irreplaceable.  These interactions with family members are more profoundly meaningful than any other interactions we can have in this life.  These are the people God has given us to love and to cherish.  Families are the design of God to pass on the knowledge of life, faith, and love.

“For the LORD sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons. He who honors his father atones for sins; he stores up riches who reveres his mother. He who honors his father is gladdened by children, and when he prays he is heard. He who reveres his father will live a long life; he obeys the LORD who brings comfort to his mother.” Sirach 3:2-7

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Charla Feast Days Raising Saints Saints

Preparing for All Saints’ Day

As each of my kids approached mid-fall of their second grade year, an excitement comes over me in anticipation of the Saint project!  My oldest son had a thing for St. Francis.  He loved animals and thought that Francis was the man for him.  We read up on the saint’s life, found a hooded brown robe, tied a rope around his waist and then adding a stuffed wolf, we were all set.  st-francisMy second son decided St. George was who he wanted to portray.  We had some plastic “armor” for him to wear, along with a foam sword, and again, a stuffed animal, a dragon this time, completed the ensemble.  Just this week, my youngest decided to emulate St. Teresa of Avila.  This pleased me greatly, since I have an affinity for St. Teresa.  She cited that her favoritism was due to the saint’s ability to experience viteresa-of-avila-72-websions and in one image, she wears a “cool black crown.”  So three yards of brown, tan, and black fabric later, she has a costume that St. Teresa herself would be proud to wear.

Why do we do this? Our Catholic Schools and Religious Education programs promote our small children to dress up as saints once a year and it is exciting.  The kids process into Mass or a perhaps a program to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In”.  There is an excitement felt by all the children and the adults aike.  It is a rite of passage of sorts and for a lot of us, it has become tradition.  The kids do research on their saint and are proud to show off what they have learned.  I remember myself– as my grandmother and mother fashioned a habit  for me to wear– holding fake roses and a crucifix in the style of St. Therese of Lisieux. I was excited and a bit in awe of what I had become even if it was just one single morning.

The saints are the rock stars of the Catholic world.  They are what we should emulate as human beings.  They have accomplished what we all strive to achieve, and that is heaven.  We know all about them: the way they died– think St. Jean de Brebeuf, the way they lived– think Mother Theresa, what they wrote– St. John of the Cross, how they persevered– St. Monica, and their relationships with the Lord.  These are just a few examples of amazing people who were amazing souls.  We talk to them, ask them the favor of putting in a good word for us to the Big Guy, and they never let us down.  The important thing is that they were mostly just human beings who had so much faith, they changed themselves– which we all know is hard to do– and they changed the world– something we quite often give up on ourselves.st george

We have to introduce our children to their role models early enough that they will attempt to be like them and grow their own faith.  These characters can be flawed (St. Paul and St. Augustine), they can be pretty and feminine (St. Rose of Lima), they can be masculine (St. Michael and St. Ignatius), they can be loners (St. Calistus), they can be just like us!  What they all have in common is faith and trust in Almighty God.  They prayed with fervor and had faith enough to move mountains.  Just as we hope for our kids to discover the saints, we can’t forget to “dress up” either.  We can wear the smile of the joyous saints, we can suffer with grace like the martyrs, and we can wear the armor of faith that protects us from the enemy.  As adults, we can get ready for All Saints’ Day and choose a role model, just like our kids do, and we can profess to “be” that saint for the year.

Who will you be when the saints go marching in?