Fasting Ink Slingers Maurisa Prayer

What Are Ember Days?

I’ve been a Catholic for over 20 years and it’s just been recently that I’ve heard of Ember Days. I’m not sure if it’s because the Catholic circle I’ve been traveling in has become more “traditional” or if it’s a reawakening for all faithful Catholics to the many beautiful, historical, and liturgically rich practices, observances, and traditions of the past.  I, for one, am grateful I’ve been introduced to some of these old traditions.

What are Ember Days?

Ember Days are commemorated four times a year over three days (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) and mark the changing of the four seasons.  They are observed the weeks following the celebrations of: 

Saint Lucy’s Day for winter

1st Sunday of Lent for spring

Pentecost for summer

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross for fall

They are easy to remember if you think of Lucy, Ashes, Dove and Cross.

Holy Mother Church, in her wisdom, originally established Ember Days for us to focus upon God in His marvelous creation: giving Him thanks for the abundance He provides and asking His blessing upon the earth as we sow and reap in due season.  As our priest so beautifully put it in one of his Ember Day homilies:

“To follow Ember Days is one of the most beautiful traditions of Holy Church. In the breadth of Tradition the cosmic calendar, that is the calendar of the earth that is independent from any kind of human observance, meets the liturgical calendar, the celebration of the mysteries of heaven in the midst of our life on earth.”

Historically Ember Days were utilized for priestly ordinations and 1st Holy Communions. Practices such as praying for priests, the holy souls in Purgatory, and almsgiving were especially encouraged.  Because of their association with the seasons of the year each set of Ember Days is devoted to giving thanks and asking God’s blessing upon some agricultural aspect of the season which is paired with a particular spiritual aspect:

Winter for the olive harvest and in anticipation of the blessing of the holy oils used in anointing of the sick

Spring for the flower harvest and in remembrance of our baptism

Summer for the wheat harvest and in honor of the Holy Eucharist

Fall for the grape harvest and in honor of the Most Precious Blood

Isn’t that just beautiful?

Most recently, due to the current scandals, crisis, and confusion in the Church, Ember Days have become called upon as days for the faithful to especially pray for the cleansing and healing of the Church.

How do I observe them?

As a family we’ve just begun adding the Ember Day observances to our spiritual practices. Typically one would fast and partially abstain as an offering of penance and with the intention of giving thanks to God for His providence in creation.  Ember Wednesday and Ember Saturday one would observe the usual prescribed disciplinary fast of the church of two small meals and one larger meal, abstaining from meat except at the main meal. On Ember Friday both the fast and full abstinence are the rule.

“. . . Ember Days no longer oblige one to fast and abstain.  However, liturgical renewal and a deeper appreciation of the holy days of the Christian year result in a renewed appreciation as to why our ancestors spoke of a ‘fast before a feast’. There may be no great, imposed, universal fast before any feast any more, but . . . the devout will find great Christian joy in the feasts of the liturgical calendar if they freely bind themselves, for their own motives and their own spirit of piety to prepare for each Church festival by a day of particular self-denial, penitential prayer, and fasting.”

—Father Christopher Gray, homily December 22, 2019

These days of prayer, fasting, and partial abstinence are purely voluntary but such a wonderful and fruitful discipline. In just a few days the Lenten Ember Days will be upon us.  I encourage you to join my family in observing this beneficial tradition: fasting and praying for good holy priests and bishops, healing in the Church, and giving thanks to God for the bounty He provides us in nature. 

Sant Crux, Lucia, Cineres, Charismata Dia
Ut sit in angaria quarta sequens feria.

Which means:

Holy Cross, Lucy, Ash Wednesday, Pentecost,
are when the quarter holidays follow.

Sources used for this article:

Homily by Father Christopher Gray given on Ember Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Catholic All Year Compendium by Kendra Tierney

Fish Eaters: Ember Days

Advent Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Michelle

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Yesterday we began the new liturgical year within the Church. It is an exciting time to say the least! As we begin our Advent journey towards Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth, it’s important that in the rush to prepare for the secular part of Christmas that we don’t take this time for granted. We must slow down and recognize the importance of the Advent season. It isn’t merely the time we need to shop for gifts but instead it is time set aside to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Savior.

The word Advent is derived from the Latin word adventus. It means “coming” or “arrival”. Advent is the season in which we prepare for the coming of Christ. But while we are preparing for Christmas and the birth of our Savior (the first coming of Christ), we are also preparing for the second coming of Jesus.

At Mass our priest reminded us that Advent is not a penitential season but instead the season of hope and joy. And really, he is right because what could be better than preparing to meet the Lord? The Church, in her wisdom, has given us the gift of time to prepare a place in our hearts for Jesus to reside. The question remains- will we take the time to prepare a place for Him?

I pray that during this Advent season we each will set aside time to contemplate on the hope, peace, joy, and love that God brings to us through Christ our Savior.

Have a blessed Advent season and may your new year be filled with God’s light, love, mercy, and hope

Celeste Crafts Domestic Church Ink Slingers

January ~Month of the Holy Name~


Just recently I learned that each month of the year is dedicated to a specific theme, in a similar manner as each Saturday being dedicated to Mary. The Church thinks of everything! The more I delve into truly living the faith in day to day life, the more I discover, “Hey, someone thought of that already!” It’s a comforting thing for me to have the Church be ahead of me, so that when I have questions there almost always seem to be answers. My question came, this time, when I was thinking about how the Pope has certain intentions that he asks us to pray for or about. Specifically he has designated 2016 to be the Year of Mercy. Well this is wonderful! It gives me a theme to carry through the year. This got me curious to know whether or not there was a set theme for each day and month as well. It turns out that, yes, indeed, there is a theme for each month. We all know about November being about All Saints and All Souls, (but really the month is dedicated to the pour souls in Purgatory). And I think everyone, religious or not, knows that the month of May is dedicated to Mary. But what about the rest? And how can we observe them? 

Here are the months and what each is dedicated to:

  • January is the month of the Holy Name of Jesus
  • February is the month dedicated to the Holy Family
  • March is the month of devotion to St. Joseph, whose feast falls on March 19th
  •  April is dedicated both to devotion to the Eucharist and devotion to the Holy Spirit
  • May is the month of Mary
  • June is the month of the Sacred Heart
  • July is the month dedicated to the Precious Blood of Our Lord; the Feast of the Precious Blood is the first Sunday of the month
  •  August is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament
  • September is traditionally dedicated to the Seven Sorrows (or Dolours) of Mary
  • October is the month of the Rosary
  • November is dedicated to the poor souls in purgatory
  • December is dedicated to Advent and the coming of Christ 

If nothing more, this gives us a great starting off point to observe a theme for Ordinary time on the calendar. Seasons of Lent and Advent give us a certain theme to be focused on. Focusing on a theme can be more difficult in Ordinary time, when we may become a little less “into” bringing the Liturgical themes into our day-to-day because there isn’t a particular holy day (holiday) to focus our attention on and prepare for. But the day-to-day is where the grit and gist of our life is lived. We should put forth some effort in this Ordinary time as well!

The coloring page I created includes several verses to look up that refer to Our Lord by different names. It’s amazing how many references there are in the Old and New Testament combined. Not only is Jesus our Savior and Lord, but he is King, Author of life, Judge, Beloved, Christ, Cornerstone, and may more. Use the graphic to learn some of the many places you will find reference to him.


Also included, on the sides are two strips that can be cut and used as book marks.

You can download the PDF from here.

Please join me in praying the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus as well.

Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Holy Spirit,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Holy Trinity, one God,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, Son of the living God, R. Have mercy on us.
Jesus, splendor of the Father, [etc.]
Jesus, brightness of eternal light.
Jesus, King of glory.
Jesus, sun of justice.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary.
Jesus, most amiable.
Jesus, most admirable.
Jesus, the mighty God.
Jesus, Father of the world to come.
Jesus, angel of great counsel.
Jesus, most powerful.
Jesus, most patient.
Jesus, most obedient.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
Jesus, lover of chastity.
Jesus, lover of us.
Jesus, God of peace.
Jesus, author of life.
Jesus, example of virtues.
Jesus, zealous lover of souls.
Jesus, our God.
Jesus, our refuge.
Jesus, father of the poor.
Jesus, treasure of the faithful.
Jesus, good Shepherd.
Jesus, true light.
Jesus, eternal wisdom.
Jesus, infinite goodness.
Jesus, our way and our life.
Jesus, joy of Angels.
Jesus, King of the Patriarchs.
Jesus, Master of the Apostles.
Jesus, teacher of the Evangelists.
Jesus, strength of Martyrs.
Jesus, light of Confessors.
Jesus, purity of Virgins.
Jesus, crown of Saints.

V. Be merciful, R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Be merciful, R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.

V. From all evil, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Your wrath, [etc.]
From the snares of the devil.
From the spirit of fornication.
From everlasting death.
From the neglect of Your inspirations.
By the mystery of Your holy Incarnation.
By Your Nativity.
By Your Infancy.
By Your most divine Life.
By Your labors.
By Your agony and passion.
By Your cross and dereliction.
By Your sufferings.
By Your death and burial.
By Your Resurrection.
By Your Ascension.
By Your institution of the most Holy Eucharist.
By Your joys.
By Your glory.

V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us, O Jesus.

V. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.

Let us pray.

O Lord Jesus Christ, You have said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Grant, we beg of You, to us who ask it, the gift of Your most divine love, that we may ever love You with our whole heart, in word and deed, and never cease praising You.

Give us, O Lord, as much a lasting fear as a lasting love of Your Holy Name, for You, who live and are King for ever and ever, never fail to govern those whom You have solidly established in Your love. R. Amen.



Advent Catechism Christmas Crafts Domestic Church Faith Formation Homeschool Ink Slingers It Worked For Me Liturgical Year Mary Motherhood Parenting Raising Saints

Ten Liturgical Activities for Advent

This article would actually apply for any Catholic family, not just home educators as it deals with liturgical activities for Advent.  

Today in the United States of America we celebrate Thanksgiving.  As I thought and thought about what I could possibly write about without boring you (and really, who is online on Thanksgiving?), I thought the one thing I am most thankful for is being Roman Catholic. With that came to mind the thought that we are beginning a brand new Liturgical Year!  This time of year is SO BUSY and our lives seem to go on overdrive.  It is rather exhausting at times and reminds me of when we used to do “vacations” to theme parks- wake up, go, go, go, crazy, repeat!

A couple of years ago we decided to END the craziness in our lives during Advent and refocus on the birth of Christ. For starters, we don’t decorate for Christmas until the 24th.  It is rather convenient that my family lives in Florida and my husband’s lives in Virginia, so we do not need to leave the house for anything on the 24th and love it!  One of the things I did was create activities which were meaningful for my small children.  I think at the time they were 12, 6, 5, 3, and 1 when I made this.  This little kit is free and available to anyone with this link. I hope it will bring peace and calm to your Advent! Please make sure that you share this Catholic Sistas link if you want to share the files with others (versus sharing the files directly with them).  Thank you.

LOGO Advent

Here is what is included in this printable liturgical kit:

1. REFLECT: A form letter to Baby Jesus, listing things the child will be thankful for and what they plan on working on during Advent:


2. WORKS OF MERCY. This page is a Christkindl activity, they get to do random acts of kindness (anonymously) for someone else in the family:


3.  ENJOYMENT: Some fun coloring pages. One of the Holy Family and one to learn about the Advent Wreath.



4. CRAFT & SHARE the FAITH: Here is a craft activity to share the faith by making big Advent candles that get “lit” when they weeks continue.


5. PRAYER. Make an Advent Prayer chain to pray for a different person or thing each day of Advent.


6. CALENDAR: Learn about the Advent season by creating your own calendar.


7.  VOCABULARY: Have the children learn some Advent vocabulary words.


8.  PUZZLES. Help the Holy Family get to Bethlehem.


9. RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS:  When “caught being good”, your child adds more “hay” into the manger for Baby Jesus.


10. MATH PUZZLES.  In addition to vocabulary, why not add some Math into the activities?  Here the children make “puzzles” out of the pictures of the Blessed Mother, Saint Joseph, and the Holy Family then glue them down on the right order or sequence to remake the picture.



To access the entire file, please click on this link:

Advent – Liturgical Activities for Catholic Children

Advent Christmas Easter Faith Formation Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Michelle Ordinary Time Spiritual Growth

Happy Catholic New Year!

The season of Advent began this weekend.  At our Masses we noticed the colors on the altar and on our priests were changed to purple.  We saw that the Advent wreath was once again on the altar, the first candle lit signifying that we have indeed started a new season in the Church.  But what does all this mean anyway?  Why does the Church begin its New Year before the start of the Gregorian calendar New Year?   Why not just start the Church’s New Year on January 1st?

The answer lies in the fact that the Church is not worried about the months of the year or about nature’s seasons.  Instead, She concerns herself with making sure that we, as followers of Christ, are able to make the journey through the mysteries of Jesus’ life beginning with the waiting period before His birth, a season that we call Advent, all the way through His death and Resurrection to the crowning of Him as King on the last Sunday of Ordinary Time.  The Second Vatican Council stated: “Within the cycle of a year, the Church unfolds the whole mystery of Christ, from his incarnation and birth until his ascension, the day of Pentecost, and the expectation of blessed hope and of the Lord’s return.” (Constitution on the Liturgy, #102).

The Liturgical Year, as we call the Church year, is divided into six separate seasons.  They are as follows: Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time.  Each season is special and important all on its own, however, each season builds on the one prior to it.  The Liturgical Year takes us on a journey through Jesus’ birth, life and death.  Let’s take a closer look at each season.

Advent: The season of waiting.  Advent comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means arrival or coming.  We are waiting to commemorate Christ’s birth.  Advent begins on the fourth Sunday preceding Christmas day nearest to or falling on November 30th and lasts until Christmas Eve.  During this time we experience a season of penitence but also one of joyful anticipation for Christ’s arrival into the world.  The four weeks of Advent are often marked by the use of an Advent wreath with four candles reflecting the themes of faith, hope, joy, and love.  The color we see in Mass and on our priests is violet or purple. Purple is used to remind us of sacrifice and penitence.  Pink is used on the 3rd Sunday of Advent to signify the joy we have that our wait for Christ’s birth is almost over.

Christmas: The season of rejoicing and celebration.  During Christmas Jesus becomes incarnate.  He chooses to come to us in human form as a baby borne of his mother Mary.  Christmas begins at Vespers on the evening of December 24th and lasts until the Baptism of Our Lord which is celebrated on the Sunday following January 6th.  The Christmas season is marked by joy and gratitude.  The color we see at the Mass and on our priests is white.  White signifies both purity and rejoicing.   Christ is here! Alleluia!

Ordinary Time: The season that’s “not so ordinary”.  Ordinary Time brings to mind a time that’s not “extraordinary”, but if we think this we are very wrong.  Ordinary Time in the Church is a season where we focus on the “not so ordinary” events that happened during Jesus’ day to day life.  During Ordinary Time we experience Christ’s priestly ministry on earth.  We read of His miracles, we hear His teachings; we follow him through His childhood and into His founding of the Church on earth.  Ordinary Time is divided into two sections, one beginning after Christmas and the other beginning after Easter.  This particular season of Ordinary Time begins on January 14th and lasts until the 9th Sunday preceding Easter.  On our altars and our priests we see the color green.  The green represents the hope of new life.

Lent: The season of penance.  Lent is a somber time in our faith.  We are remembering Jesus’ 40 days in the desert and preparing for His death on the cross.  We focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Lent is a time where we are called to repent and make lasting changes in our lives to bring us closer to God.  Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 6 weeks before Easter, and ends right before the Mass on the Easter Vigil, the night prior to Easter.  Traditionally we celebrate 40 days of Lent, not counting the Sundays during the season as Sundays are always a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and our redemption. During Lent we see purple or violet on our altars and our priests.  Again this color represents sacrifice and penitence.  Like in Advent, halfway through Lent, we see pink introduce as a sign that there is still hope.  Hope that Christ will win His battle against death and will rise in glory.  Hope that Easter will soon be here.

Easter: The season of hope and rejoicing.  Easter is a glorious time in our faith.  We know the joy of the Resurrection and salvation that Christ has secured for us.  It is a time of new beginnings.  It is a time of thanksgiving for Jesus’ triumph over death.  Easter begins at the Easter Vigil and ends 50 days later at Pentecost.  During the Easter season we also celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday and the Ascension.  Between the Ascension and Pentecost we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Holy Spirit.  During the Easter season our altars and priests are clothed in white or gold.  Again, these colors signify purity, new life, and rejoicing.  However, on Pentecost we see the color red as a symbol of the tongues of fire given by the Holy Spirit that descended upon the Apostles.

Ordinary Time: The season that again is “not so ordinary”.  The second period of Ordinary Time begins the Monday following Pentecost and ends the night before Advent begins. The last Sunday of Ordinary Time is the Feast of Christ the King.  During this second period of Ordinary Time we also celebrate many other important feasts within our faith: Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, The Sacred Heart of Jesus, The Assumption of Mary, All Saint’s Day, and All Souls Day (to name a few).  The season is far from ordinary!  This is the longest season within the Church’s liturgical year.  At this time we once again see green on our altars and on our priests.  The green symbolizes the hope of new life… the new life that Christ is offering to us, that He secured for us through His holy sacrifice on the cross.

There are various ways to celebrate each season of the Church’s Liturgical Year.  One only has to look on the internet or ask a friend what they do to keep each season holy.  To make the most out of this amazing Liturgical Year that the Church has given us we must first understand why we celebrate the way we do.  Why is each of the seasons important?  How can each season bring us closer to God?  How can we keep the seasons holy?  Our Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, has given us the map to grow closer to God, to understand Jesus’ great sacrifice, and to find our way to His loving arms.  The Liturgical Year aids us in these goals.  By following the Liturgical Year we take a journey through the mysteries of Christ’s life, we repent, we rejoice, and we grow in faith and closeness to God.  What an amazing gift the Church has provided us.

Happy New Year!  How do you plan to celebrate?

*you may find the above Liturgical calendar and many others at