Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:
Scroll down to read it as a blog post!
Alright, it’s no secret I didn’t grow up Catholic. When I finally came into the Church at Easter vigil 2010, I had no idea just what I was stepping into. I thought I knew, but I really didn’t understand the depth and breadth of the Catholic faith, especially when it comes to traditions.
I knew Advent wreaths were a thing but that’s about all I knew of how to celebrate Christmas the Catholic way. There’s chocolate calendars too right?
Then I had my first child and I thought, “I should pass on traditions!” But I didn’t have any to pass on. I remember sitting down at my computer and feeling overwhelmed by all the options. And the truth is, most of the people who have websites dedicated to Liturgical Living, must also be related to Martha Stewart or Gordon Ramsey with how intricate their food and crafts were!
I felt unworthy. I felt lost. I felt like an outsider.
Now I’m not one to let negative feelings deter me so I pushed through and tried to celebrate a few things. We tried some Advent stuff and we tried a few feast days dedicated to popular saints.
I’m not gonna lie… it bombed. Turns out liturgical living with little children is tricky. I’m not going to say it’s not possible but when you take big kid activities and hope that you’re 3-year-old has a holy experience… it will probably end in frustration and tears… theirs or yours.
Those first few years were discouraging to say the least. I felt out of place. I also felt like a failure as I saw all these wonderful examples of liturgical living online.
Eventually I discovered a few things about myself and my children and I wanted to share them with you.
- I love me a good tea party!
Guess what? It’s easy to brew tea and plop cookies, crackers, or fruit in front of your kids and call it a saint celebration. This is my jam! It’s easy, simple, and can be healthy too!
- Coloring pages and word searches can be like praying for children.
After becoming a certified Catechesis of the Good Shepherd teacher, I really learned that the work of children ages 3-6 is to learn how to quiet their body and to listen to God. They can do that in so many ways! Coloring, searching for words, or even building things out of legos can be a true work for God. They don’t need to be praying the rosary or creating complex Catholic crafts to celebrate a feast day. Simply give them a coloring sheet and read a saint book out loud to them. It’s easy and powerful! You can do other things later when the kids get older but for now, this is a great start to your Catholic traditions.
- Simply marking time is enough to begin with.
Forming life-long traditions takes time! You need to get to know the liturgical calendar. You need to get to know the saints. And you need to get to know yourself and what you like to celebrate. In the beginning, it’s enough to simply verbalize that today is a special day and do something very simple like light a candle and say a prayer. By starting small, you can begin to feel the beautiful rhythms of the Catholic church and to live with the liturgical calendar.
- Candles are cheap and powerful!
I know, we tend to think of children and fire as a bad mix but hear me out. I light candles for three-year-olds in my atrium all the time. They’ve learned to respect the fire and to snuff it out when they are done praying. They are small tea lights and there is always an adult in the room. If we educate children about candles, they can rise to the occasion to treat them seriously. And guess what? They do! Kids love candles. It’s a great way to make them focused on their prayers to the Lord.
- They will remember!
If your children are young or if they don’t seem to care about the celebrations that you’re doing, do it anyway. You are doing this as much for yourself as for them and they will remember. You are imprinting a way of life on their little hearts. In five years, they’ll be asking you, “When is St. Nicholas day?” Eventually, they’ll be old enough to help bake hot cross buns themselves. The magical liturgical moments in your mind, they will come but you have to lay the groundwork now!
We are a liturgical people. We have a longing in our hearts to live our lives through the changing seasons. God created us to love things that change and things that are constant and we find that in the calendar that changes throughout the year but is the same year after year.
So how do you be Catholic with no traditions? Just start one. Deepen your Catholic faith by adding some of these traditions in your home.
To make things easier, I teamed up with Ashley Woleban from www.betweenthelines.com to bring you an Advent Guide. This includes TONS of information but some special sections just for beginners!