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Adult coloring pages are certainly all the rage anymore, but there are reasons for that. For some, coloring while reflecting has even helped to enhance their prayer lives. As they focus on a specific phrase of scripture, symbols of their faith, or pictures of favorite Bible or saint stories, their creative release opens up another window to hear God's voice.
As Holy Week draws closer, Justina will be presenting a short series of adult coloring pages - free to our readers. Click on the above example she has created for Good Friday or Stations of the Cross. Although perfect for adult and teen reflections, this would also make a great coloring page for younger ones participating in Stations of the Cross at home.
We hope you truly enjoy this beautiful way of entering in as we prepare our hearts for Resurrection Day!
Years ago, my sister and I were discussing Lenten observances. Our kids were young, and we were contemplating how we could help our kids (who were very young at the time) spiritually. Praying for them daily was wonderful, of course. However, we wanted to do something that would ensure that they would be covered in prayer their entire lives. It was then that she brought up a suggestion that would change my life, both during Lent and every day of the year.
Her suggestion wowed me with its simplicity and awed me in its demonstration of true love. Her idea was this:
Make the decision to offer something up for my children - not only for Lent, but every day for the rest of my life.
Wow!! What a concept!!
Yes, it would be tough, but that's why I loved it - it would be a beautiful, tangible expression of my love for them. Under the radar, I would be able to daily offer myself in prayer for my children knowing that God Himself would be applying the graces forward.
And the possibilities! It took days to come up with something that I felt would be challenging yet possible no matter my state in life. (To remain incognito, I won't be able to reveal my specific sacrifice since my kids sometimes read my posts.)
Some ideas, however, could be giving up a certain food, waking up during the night to recite a specific prayer, choosing to withhold from eating during the night or a specific time of day, etc.
Just as important to choosing my sacrifice was deciding exactly how I wanted to graces to be applied. After much thought, I decided to keep the decision fairly open to God's loving hand, only requesting that it would be offered up for the souls of each of my children and their future spouses and for extra strength and grace to stay the course on their journeys toward heaven.
Incredibly, although I have struggled with being consistent in fasting and sacrifice all of my life, I can honestly say (with and only with the help of God's grace!), that I have never succumbed to the temptation of this particular one for my children. The ability to maintain it has been a huge gift from God and one that has surprised me with its fruits.
One particular bonus reveals itself on those days when I feel that I have not done a very good job in being a mom. At the moment when I am offering my sacrifice, I sigh with relief, knowing that at least I have done one good thing for their souls that day!
For those who wish they could do more for their loved ones, or even would like to devote a life-long sacrifice to a specific cause, like the poor, this Spirit-led suggestion might be your answer. I can assure you, it is truly a gift that keeps on giving.
May God continue to use those around us to guide us towards a more intimate communion with Him, our families and the Body of Christ!
Photo attribution: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sunset-hands-love-woman-5390/ Common Domain
My son is so excited to receive his First Communion! He still has a couple of months, but he just can't wait. Every Mass he goes up with us for Communion, puts his finger over his lips and bows his head to receive a blessing. Lately, however, a growing smile has been playing around on his lips as he knows his big day is coming nearer. And, of course, I can't help but smile as well. His anticipation reminds me of what I should be experiencing.
St. Jean Vianney said, "If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy." How true this is!! Coming face to face with the Savior of the World should have that affect on us, honestly. The Eucharist is one of the deepest, most profound mysteries that our God has revealed to us. It is a gift like no other, a plan like that which has never been conceived, a portal of grace to which nothing can compare, and far more.
This desired anticipation for receiving the Eucharist also reminds me of Easter and the expectancy of the Resurrection. Sometimes I can't help but wish I could have been a fly on the wall when Jesus rose, or when the women and Apostles experienced the risen Lord.
But then it occurred to me: every Mass provides me a glimpse of their view!
Picture it: when Jesus is consecrated on the alter, Father's hands rise upward with the sacred host above the alter, the plain host species becoming the Body of Christ.
Sounds a bit like the Resurrection, doesn't it? Jesus arose from the stone "alter" upon which he had been lying, his human body changing into its new glorified state of perfection.
Try considering this image the next time you are at the table of the Lord. It may help you to feel more intimately involved with that moment when heaven touched earth and our salvation was won.
Thank you, Lord, for continuing to reveal the mysteries of Your great love for us!
"Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me." St. Patrick
Ah, St. Patrick. His is such a refreshing story of strength, immense trust, purpose and fulfillment. And what an inspiration!!!
Despite this, it is amazing how many people have foregone the reasons for this day of beautiful tribute to this great saint and have moved the focus from Christ-centered to leprechaun-centered. Considering that St. Patrick believed the words that he said above to his very core, I can't help but wonder how he feels when he witnesses the partying taking place around the world for reasons that completely ignore all that he fought for here on earth.
Today, our kids' unicycle team was involved in a major local St. Patrick's Day parade. The parade was fantastic, incorporating hundreds of acts in its forward march through the city. Despite the great festivity, though, it was impossible to miss the fact that except for our team logo - The Saint Helen Unicycle Team - I could not find anything actually referencing St. Patrick and his Christianity! People, animals and vehicles had turned more shades of green than I thought possible, and there were shamrocks everywhere. Leprechauns were easily located, as well as a huge balloon depicting a superman-looking creature covered in green. But where was St. Patrick? There was not a cross to be seen, not a reference to to his deep faith to be found.
Granted, being in the parade I was not able to view all of the acts, but I have a deep suspicion that my view of the parade was not much different than the rest of it.
Please don't get me wrong...I'm all for enjoying the festivities of this great celebration. I just wish that ALL people could remember and realize what they are actually celebrating.
Perhaps today we can stop and thank St. Patrick for his incredible contribution to humanity and for furthering our faith in this world.
If we all really understood his teachings and great love for his "adopted people," we would be filled with inspiration and admiration for this blessed bishop.
Thank you, St. Patrick.
I, for one, will be eating a corned beef sandwich in your honor tonight! :)
Top o' the mornin' to you! Here is a new take on the ever-so-fun puffy slime! Mixed with treasures inside to remind you of the story of St. Patrick, this fun craft is an educational toy, art project and science project all rolled up into one. The kids will DEFINITELY love this one!
Younger ones just can't get enough of it, but I wouldn't give it to anyone 3 and under due to small pieces. However, you could make a separate batch without the hidden treasures for those little ones that may be drooling over the fun that their older siblings are having!
Although it is not quite St. Patrick's Day, we just had to put out this video early to give time to create this fun project.
God bless and, as always, have fun creating!!
One of the many things I love about Lent is that it is packed full of opportunities to practice and grow in virtue. Not only does the Church factor this in when she lovingly sets us Lenten boundaries and limits via sacrifice and fasting, but somehow moments requiring virtuous responses seem to just come out of the woodwork.
Humility is definitely one of those that seems to show up regularly. And although I pray often to grow in this challenging virtue, my sister-in-law reminded me the other day that I should be sure to ask God to "be gentle" in His lessons when He helps me to grow in humility. For certain, with God we do have to be careful what we ask for! :)
St. Catherine of Bologna's feast day is today. And what a perfect example of humility she is!
Born wealthy, St. Catherine was the daughter of a diplomat and received a formidable education that included art, singing, writing and reading. She eventually became an excellent painter and was on her way to a lifestyle that the world would have considered great.
However, her own soul viewed greatness very differently, calling her to give up a life of ease and notoriety to become a Franciscan Tertiary. Eventually, she founded several monasteries of the Order of Poor Claires.
Although she did continue to use her gifts of painting and writing, including the Treatise on the 7 Spiritual Weapons Necessary for Spiritual Warfare, she purposely chose the "lower" roles in the convent, including caretaker of animals and laundress.
A truly inspiring saint, St. Catherine of Bologna's body was found incorrupt, a sign to the world that she is a loving disciple of Christ whom we should emulate and set as a beautiful example of Christ's love.
This Lent, as we work on those opportunities for virtue that keep popping up around us, let's remember the humility that St. Catherine exemplified daily. And, not to be cliche, but perhaps we can even ask the question, "What would St. Catherine do?" when the situation arises.
Even better yet, why don't we just ask her? If we listen well, we will very likely feel her tugging on our hearts, guiding us and showing us the way.
Photo attribution: Simon Vouet (1590-1649), Common Domain
I love listening to kids tell their version of Bible stories. An incredible combination of drama, scandal, and hilarity, sometimes I wonder if their tales would make better movies than many of those out there today!
As I was listening to my son's version of one lately, it reminded me of our Lenten and Easter video that we had made last year when we asked kids questions about this blessed season. I realized that I should probably put it on the blog, because, well, kids are timeless! :)
So here is that version, in case you haven't seen it in a while!
So, how hard is it to figure out challenging questions using emojies? Well, the Teen Take Team just had to find out. Watch as they attempt to give clues to questions about our faith using these tiny images and see if you can guess what they mean before the Team!!
Looking for a way to deeply enter into Lent and figure out what God is calling you to give up or do to show your great love for Him? Then you've come to the right place!! Our oldest teen wrote an astounding reflection that will truly stop and help us come closer to Our Lord. Although written with teens in mind, I gained a lot from reading it, and I think any adult would benefit greatly!
This reflection presents a dual purpose: an exceptional examination of conscience and a plethora of unique ideas for offering during Lent. Ideally, it would be great if you could take your time going through it to be sure to hear God's voice speaking.
Also, to aid in your time of prayer, you can click on the links to the right for inspirational Lenten music.
May your Lenten journey be filled with revelation, hope and peace!
Dear Lord, as I enter into this time with You, please open my heart to Your will. And, as I take this walk with You, help me to understand what You are saying to me and help me to be open to the workings of the Holy Spirit.
O Holy Spirit, come into this place and fill my heart with the desire to know, love and serve You on a more spiritual and deeper level this Lent that I ever have before. Give me the courage to place myself into Your hands to discern how I should atone for my sins with abstinence and prayer this Lent. Lord, I love You. I know that You desire my heart to become one with Your most Sacred Heart. Please help me to unite my will to Yours this Lent. I ask this through Christ our Lord, in unity with the Holy Spirit. Amen.
As You were on the cross during Your last moments, You cried out, “I thirst!” I know that You were not thirsty in the way that we are thirsty. This thirst was for the souls for which You came here, to earth, to die for. You died for me. You gave Yourself up as a Lamb to the slaughter so that I would be saved. When thought about like this, I realize how simple - how black and white - this is. And I wonder, “How can I repay this gift?” How can I, a simple human, repay this gift to You, our Lord, who died for me! Remember that because there is no time in heaven, my prayers and sacrifices can help relieve the pain that You felt while being crucified. So, I ask this now. I ask how I can console Your heart on the cross, despite being so easily tempted into sin. I am like Peter when Jesus said to him, “This night before the cock crows, you will deny ever knowing Me.” Please give me the strength to do Your Will.
Lord, I ask you how I can atone for my sins and, by doing so, grow closer to You during this Lent? Where in my life can I make a change for the better? What can I do to make reparation for the sins I have committed? What are You calling me to abstain from that may or may not be a sin? What will make the biggest difference spiritually in my life?
Have I neglected to love You, Lord God, with all my heart, soul and mind? Do I really love You above all things or have I made other things - money, clothes, sports, TV, music - more important? What has distracted me from loving You? Do I spend all of my time with my friends or at parties, desperate to gain their approval and acceptance? Should I spend more time with You, Whom I know will love me no matter what I do and will raise me up when things go wrong? How can I console Your heart that so deeply longs for a relationship with mine? Can I develop my relationship with You by giving up time with my friends in exchange for time with You? Are You calling me to come visit with You in the adoration chapel? Or are You calling me to come to Mass more than once a week? Maybe even daily mass? Would this help strengthen our relationship, Lord?
Do I make time each day for prayer? Or do I only pray when I need something? Do I praise and thank You? How can I manage my time better so that I can strengthen our relationship? Could I decide to do my homework instead of watching that extra episode? Would that give me more time to give to You, my Jesus? Could I then spend that time in prayer, learning to love You, whom I have neglected? Could I set a reminder on my phone for a time that I know I can spend in prayer? Can I make a daily commitment to enrich my prayer life? Are You calling me to say a Divine Mercy chaplet or Rosary every day? Could I sign up for a daily email to meditate and reflect on the day? Could I spend 10 minutes reading the Bible every day?
Do I have trouble with taking Your Name in vain or swearing? Are You calling me to reflect and overcome this habit during Lent? Could I make a conscious effort not to swear? Have I denied You or the Church in public? Do I need to give up listening to music with foul language or immoral subjects? Are there other triggers that I can avoid that will keep me from being tempted to swear? Are You calling me to start keeping a journal? Would this help me to channel my frustration and anger that may be causing my lapses in self-control?
Am I keeping Sundays holy? Am I coming to Mass weekly, or do I decide not to? Do I pay attention during Mass by praying and singing, or do I just go through the motions? Do I leave early? Are You calling me to participate whole-heartedly during Mass this Lent? Could I come a bit earlier to spend a few minutes preparing myself for Mass? Could I decide not to leave until after the priest has descended the altar? Or after the last song is done? Do I have trouble paying attention during the readings? Are You calling me to begin to pray through the readings by writing down how You spoke to me during them? Could I decide to take something from the homily to heart instead of zoning out? Do I fast from food for an hour before receiving Your precious body and blood? If I don’t do this, could I set a reminder on my phone to one hour before Mass to remind me?
Am I greedy or jealous? Do I resent my friends’ or others’ success? Do I send angry texts to people whom I am jealous of? Are You calling me to think before typing? Do I nag my parents into buying something for me? Are You calling me to give up shopping this Lent, or to refrain from buying something for myself this Lent? Are You calling me to use the money that I usually spend on myself for someone else? Should I donate the money to the Church or give it to people who I know need it? Do I complain about the things that I do have? Are You calling me to give up complaining this Lent? Could I replace the words I use to complain by thanking You instead?
Do I use my words to hurt people in real life or on social media in order to make myself feel better? Do I spread rumors or lie? Do I cheat on tests or plagiarize? Do I let other people do my homework? Are You calling me to be honest and do my own work this Lent? Could I study more? Should I make more time to spend on important things like school and You? Do I waste time by procrastinating? Are You calling me to give up procrastination for Lent? Could I decide to do my homework instead of watching another YouTube video? Would that give me more time to give You, my Jesus? Are You calling me to give up Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or another social media platform? Are You asking me to give up all social media? Could I decide not to use electronics on certain days or times? Could I put a limit on the amount of time I spend online? Could I give that extra time to You, Jesus, or my family? Could I give that time to the Church or my community by volunteering? Is there a ministry that You want me to participate in this Lent? Are You calling me to visit elderly relatives?
Am I violent in my words or actions? Do I set a good example? Do I get angry and lose my temper? Do I hold grudges? Do I play violent video games or watch violent movies for the thrill? Could I give these things up to please you? Could I, instead, watch the Passion or another movie on the suffering of the saints?
This Lent, are You calling me to work on a specific virtue? Do I need to learn prudence? Do I say inappropriate things? Are You asking me to be merciful? Do I need to learn to let things go? Are You calling me to work on chastity? Do I think impure thoughts or look at impure images? Do I dress immodestly? Could You be calling me to give up “dressing to impress?” Am I gluttonous? Are You calling me to give up a certain food or drink for Lent? Is this what Your heart desires? Will giving up a special comfort from home bring me closer to You? Are You calling me to discern my vocation during this Lent? Do I partake of the sacraments as often as I should? Are You calling me to go to confession more often?
As I end this time of reflection with You, is there anything else that You would have me do or offer up?
Lord, in all that I do this Lent, may my love for You be evident and may it console Your Sacred Heart who so longs for me. I love You, Jesus.
The author Fr. James Mallon has been known for this statement. The first time I read it, I did a double take. Scandalous? What? It seems to me that God's mercy and scandal should be pointing in the exact opposite direction. But then I began to think about this crazy concept.
God's mercy. Scandal.
Then it dawned on me, as it probably already has for you.
God's mercy = Scandal
It actually equals it! In our world, God's mercy became such a radical concept. It differed and continues to differ from our human, natural predispositions to mercy. Why? Well, to put it bluntly, God's mercy just isn't fair. At least not in our human-need-for-justice kind of fair.
In my house, every day is a test of fairness. Claims to the lack of it abound regularly.
"She hasn't cleaned as much as I have!"
"I fed chickens two times in a row. It's not fair! It's time for someone else to do it!"
At one time we even had a serious family discussion on why everyone's dishes jobs were not getting completed consistently. One of the kids said that in order to fill the dishwasher, the other person had to empty it. The claim was that the emptying often was not occurring, so the filler couldn't do her job.
Then my husband posed the question: "Depending on the circumstances, why couldn't you do both jobs? We don't want to promote lack of responsibility, but sometimes the reason is beyond control and it would be a great mercy."
I think I could have used a knife to cut through the silence at his question. I didn't have to read their minds to know what they were thinking..."We can't do that because it's not fair!"
However, their faces also revealed a light dawning. What their dad had put on the table was God's mercy. His mercy was difficult, challenging, and completely unfair to our humanness. But that was how they knew the difference.
God's mercy breaks what has become the mold of mercy in this world. And the breaking of this mold is scandalous. And, honestly, for the sake of my soul, I praise God for this scandalous mercy. There is so much undeserved mercy that He gives me every single day.
I would venture to say that His greatest example of this is in showing me that although I could never deserve it, I can someday enter into eternity with Him.
Wow. Can't get more merciful than that!
Sometime this week, let's take advantage of an opportunity to show God's form of mercy to someone.
I pray that God brings one to light and gives us the grace to be a radical example of His love in that moment!
Photo Attribution: https://pixabay.com/en/question-mark-answer-communication-1990155/
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Hi! I'm a Catholic mom who loves to encourage and support others in their journey to live the beauty of our Catholic faith in a modern world. It can be a struggle, no doubt, but God has given us the tools we need! Join my family (both immediate and extended!) and me as we take on this incredible journey of our path to holiness.
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