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The Lord Is with You • Family Time

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December 24-30: Octave of Christmas

Fourth Sunday of Advent + Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord + St. Stephen + St. John the Apostle + Holy Innocents + St. Thomas Beckett




…is an Amazon review or two. Did you know that Amazon accounts for more than half of the books sold in North America? For very small Catholic publishers like Peanut Butter & Grace, having good reviews on Amazon isn’t just “nice to have”; it’s essential to help us keep going.

If you’ve purchased a book from us in 2017, please take a moment to drop a review. All of our books are on Amazon, but this week we’re highlighting a few  in particular:

  • The All Saints’ Day Party: Search by title or ISBN 978-1944008437
  • Be Yourself! A Journal for Catholic Girls: Search by title or ISBN 978-1944008390
  • The Catholic Family Book of Prayers: Search by title or ISBN 978-1944008468

Thank you!



1. Make a home for God. The readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent focus on God’s dwelling among us. Preview the readings with your kids in this week’s Breaking Open the Word at Home, by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry.

2. Go to Mass—twice. Christmas is a holy day of obligation, and so is the Fourth Sunday of Advent, which means going to Mass with squirrelly kids twice in 24 hours. It’s a great time to review Doing Mass with Kids: 25+ Strategies for a Better Experience.

3. Celebrate Christmas to the fullest. Christmas isn’t a one-day event for Catholics (see How Long Is the Christmas Season?)…which leaves plenty of time for fun Christmas traditions! Here are 21+ Catholic traditions to try out with your family this Christmas season.

4. Read these great Christmas books with your kids. From the battlefields of 10th-century Bohemia to the silly, single-minded camel, and the quiet stillness of a Santa kneeling in front of the baby Jesus, this list of books covers it all. Though varied in age appropriateness and style, each book is an impactful and touching read for the Christmas season.

5. Play a game of Christmas trivia with your kids. Do you know what the name Bethlehem means? It’s Christmas trivia time! Let your kids ask you one or more of these questions (Don’t worry, the answers are included, too.)

6. Help other families by donating unused toys to charity. In the last days before Christmas, go through toys your kids have outgrown or otherwise don’t use and donate them to your local thrift shop or Goodwill for last-minute bargain hunters to pick up. If you find it hard to give away toys for sentimental reasons, try picturing how happy it will make another family this Christmas.

7. Evangelize at Christmas Mass. Ever notice how the pews brim with familiar and unfamiliar faces each Christmas? Why not take the opportunity to make everyone feel welcome? John J. Boucher, a Catholic evangelization consultant, offers these nine welcoming ways to evangelize at Christmas Mass. And Jean Heimann from Catholic Fire offers 11 more easy ways to evangelize during the Christmas season.

8. Watch the new Star Wars movie. Seeing “The Last Jedi” this weekend? Religion plays a major role in the plot. Jen Schlameuss-Perry has your Catholic family review, including the official trailer, a plot summary, and lots and lots of connections to our Catholic faith for parents to discuss with kids.

9. Go on a quiet, prayerful walk with your kids. Sometime during the Octave of Christmas, take them on a quiet walk to teach them contemplative prayer. Yes, “quiet kids” might seem to be an oxymoron, but that’s why you want to take “small steps” toward the regular practice of contemplative prayer. We’ll tell you why and how.

10. Catch the Noel Sky. At about 8 p.m. Dec. 25 (and throughout the week of Christmas) the Northern Cross stands upright on the western horizon, just about to set, but directly opposite on the eastern horizon is Praesepe, the Manger, just rising. It’s a phenomenon called the Noel Sky.



With the fourth Sunday of Advent falling on Christmas Eve, there’s a chance your family will be going to Mass twice in one day. Over in the PB & Grace Parents Facebook group, we’ve been brainstorming how to slice and dice that. Some families are going to the Saturday evening vigil Mass, then attending Christmas services the evening of the next day. Check out the whole discussion online; it’s a closed group, so you will need to request to be added.



Sunday, Dec. 24

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Vigil of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord


Monday, Dec. 25

Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord

Tuesday, Dec 26

St. Stephen (d. 36)
The deacon who became the first Christian martyr. The Acts of the Apostles says he was one of seven deacons appointed by the Twelve Apostles to distribute food and money more fairly to Greek members of the early church. St. Stephen is a martyr “by love, will and blood”: that is, he loved Christ so much, he chose to give up his life for him.


Wednesday, Dec. 27

St. John the Apostle (6-100)
The apostle who, with his brother James, immediately followed Jesus’ call. Five books of the Bible contain his teaching: the Gospel of John, three letters and the Book of Revelation. St. John was a martyr by love and will: he chose to give his whole life to Jesus, but he died peacefully. He was the only apostle (other than Judas) not to be killed.


Thursday, Dec. 28

Holy Innocents
The children who died in the place of Christ because of King Herod’s sin. They are martyrs by blood alone.


Friday, Dec. 29

St. Thomas Beckett (1118-1170)
St. Thomas was a close advisor to King Henry II, but after being named the Archbishop of Canterbury, he clashed with the king over issues of how much power the king had over the Church. On December 29, 1170, four of the king’s knights ambushed the archbishop during evening prayers in Canterbury Cathedral, killing him. As they did, he shouted: “For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.”


Saturday, Dec. 30

Blessed Eugenia Ravasco (1845-1900)
The young woman who founded the religious congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary at the age of 23. “From early adolescence, Eugenia was deeply influenced by her uncle’s responsible Christian example and his generosity towards the poor,” according to the Vatican’s biography of Blessed Eugenia. “Unlike her shy younger sister, Elisa, Eugenia was expansive and energetic and loved to serve others. Eucharistic worship, together with devotion to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, became an essential part of her spirituality.”



  • Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Jan. 1)
  • World Day of Prayer for Peace (Jan. 1)
  • January is Poverty Awareness Month
  • feast of St. Elizabeth Anne Seton (Jan. 3)
  • feast of St. John Neumann (Jan. 4)
  • Epiphany of the Lord (Jan. 7)



…are checking out the Hillbilly Thomists, a bluegrass band of thirteen Dominicans with a top-selling folk artist record. The self-titled record was created by Dominicans friars who study St. Thomas Aquinas at the Dominican House of Studies (officially called the Priory of the Immaculate Conception) in Washington, D.C.  Word on Fire has a feature story on their formation and success, here is a jam session video and introduction of the band from The Arlington Catholic Herald, and you can view their music video on YouTube. Jam on, Hillbilly Thomists!



In a joint letter with other faith leaders, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, as well as several other Catholic bishops affirmed the inherent beauty of God’s gift of being male or female: “We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw— it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God,” they wrote in the open letter, which was also signed by other Muslim and Christian faith leaders. The letter can be read in full on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.



“The power of this Child, Son of God and Son of Mary, is not the power of this world, based on might and wealth; it is the power of love. It is the power that created the heavens and the earth, and gives life to all creation: to minerals, plants and animals. It is the force that attracts man and woman, and makes them one flesh, one single existence. It is the power that gives new birth, forgives sin, reconciles enemies, and transforms evil into good. It is the power of God. This power of love led Jesus Christ to strip himself of his glory and become man; it led him to give his life on the cross and to rise from the dead. It is the power of service, which inaugurates in our world the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace.”

—Pope Francis in his “urbi et orbi” (to the city of Rome and the world) Christmas message from 2016




Family Time! is edited by Regina Lordan and Jerry Windley-Daoust.



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Remember to grab 15% off your order at Gracewatch Media with coupon code GRACE15.

Here’s a list of most of our books, ordered by publication date (most recent first).

The Catholic Family Book of Prayers
Do you want to introduce your kids to the richness of the Christian prayer tradition? The best way to do that is to pray with them, and now there’s a beautiful collection of Catholic prayers and meditations designed just for that purpose: The Catholic Family Book of Prayers: A Treasury of Prayers and Meditations for Families to Pray Together. It’s packed with prayers, blessings, meditations, saintly wisdom, and artwork—all selected specifically for Catholic families to pray together. Available in digital, softcover, hardcover, and handcrafted editions.

MISSION:CHRISTIAN December-January includes a saint, Scripture reading, Christian mission, prayer prompt, and fun facts in every daily entry…plus, special features and activities for Christmas and Advent.

Lectio Divina for Teens: Reading God’s Messages to You
Lectio Divina for Teens: Reading God’s Messages to You introduces young people to the ancient prayer practice of lectio divina in a guided journal format. It features a brief, accessible introduction to lectio divina, walking readers through the method step by step, then turns them loose to try the method themselves in eight pre-selected readings. Seven additional blank journal entries provide space for readers to choose their own readings; a list of suggested texts is included. The colorful, beautifully designed interior provides a warm and welcome space for reflection and prayer. Lectio Divina for Teens has received an imprimatur from the Diocese of Winona.

The All Saints’ Day Party
Maggie and Max can’t wait for the All Saints’ Day party. There’s just one problem: they can’t decide which saint to dress up as…and the party is just a week away! Join Maggie and Max as their friends and family tell them about six holy men and women who offer living examples of what it means to be a saint…even if you’re a kid!

Turning Grief Inside Out: Surviving Pregnancy Loss with God’s Help
Drawing on her own personal experience of pregnancy loss, Christine Hendersen offers practical and spiritual advice—as well as a hopeful path forward—for grieving mothers and the people who love them.

Be Yourself! A Journal for Catholic Girls: “Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire!” Those words are at the heart of Be Yourself! A Journal for Catholic Girls, which is designed to help girls explore their identity and purpose in life in light of the wisdom of the Catholic Church, including half a dozen female saints. Ages 9 and up.

I Can Be Happy, Too: A Book about Attitudes uses simple rhyme accompanied by Scripture verses and sweet, expressive illustrations, to teach children that while we can’t control the bad things that happen to us, we can control how we respond to disappointment and adversity.

Blessed Is the Fruit of Thy Womb: Rosary Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss invites grieving mothers to let the Blessed Mother accompany them on their journey of grief and healing. Mary not only understands their loss, but wishes to bring mothers to healing through the saving work of her son. For each mystery of the rosary, author Heidi Indahl compassionately shares her own experiences of miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss, offering insights about how those losses are connected to the experience of Jesus and Mary as revealed by the mysteries of the rosary.

MISSION:CHRISTIAN June-July 2017 includes features on Pentecost, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, St. Pierre Toussaint, St. Kateri Tekawitha, and more. A checklist of fun summer activities, plus “Christian missions,” Scripture readings, prayer prompts, and saint profiles for every day will keep your kids busy!

In the Realm of Mist and Mercy, our new YA fantasy/adventure novel with a Catholic heart and sensibility; it comes with an accompanying Lesson Plan book that helps parents and kids connect the story to teachings of the Catholic faith.

The Illuminated Rosary hardcover complete set. “I can lead the rosary now!” That’s what we hear kids saying when they have one of the Illuminated Rosary books in their laps. The words of the prayers are printed on every page, opposite a sacred artwork depicting the mystery of the rosary being said. Kids love these books, but so do adults and grandparents! Available in hardcover (allow extra time for shipping) or softcover sets.

The Stations of the Cross for Children. Here’s a downloadable PDF with sacred art depicting each of the Stations of the Cross, along with a simple reflection and prayer, geared for young children.

77 Ways to Pray with Your Kids, now in hardcover from Dynamic Catholic; to celebrate, we’re offering hardcover copies for $12, about 50% off the cover price, while supplies last. Whether you are just getting started with family prayer or wish to broaden your horizons, 77 Ways to Pray with Your Kids can help, offering practical, kid-friendly guides to Christian prayer practices both ancient and new. Features include: age-appropriate adaptations for young children, older kids, and teens; articles on a wide range of practices; Talking Points…explanations of prayer practices that kids might have questions about; cross-references to the Catechism, Scripture, and church documents; an appendix containing thirty-three common and useful Catholic prayers; a quick-find index makes it easy to find prayer ideas, and doubles as a checklist to track your progress.

Molly McBride and the Plaid Jumper. Kids love the spunky young Molly McBride and her feisty sidekick, the wolf-pet Francis. In this book, Molly faces off against the dreaded plaid jumper that she’s going to have to wear when she starts school in the fall. Along with her new friends, Dominic and Fr. Matt, she learns all about uniforms and our true identity in God.

Paddy and the Wolves. Young Paddy can’t sit still during morning prayers, but he’s more than happy to help the shepherd, Barra, watch sheep for the day! But who will watch Paddy when he wanders into the woods? As he explores the wilderness of coastal Britain, Paddy encounters many delights and dangers—and ultimately, the One who watches over him through it all. Available as a hardcover or softcover storybook, or a coloring book with complete text; also available is a downloadable board game. Features the art of Catholic folk artist Jen Norton.

The Children’s Little Advent BookThe Children’s Little Advent Book is designed to help parents with children ages 4-7 on a journey through Advent to Christmas. Each day’s entry includes a brief Scripture reading, a reflection, discussion questions, a brief prayer, and a simple coloring page for children to complete after praying with their families. With The Children’s Little Advent Book, parents have an Advent resource specifically designed for short family prayer services with young children.

Corporal Works of Mercy Cards. Teach a lesson about the Works of Mercy with these downloadable cards and teaching guide.

Little Lessons from St. Francis of Assisi. “Make me an instrument of your peace.”  The Peace Prayer of St. Francis, beloved by people of all faiths around the world, beautifully captures the spirit of “the poor little man” from Assisi, as well as the aspirations of our time: for hope, for reconciliation, for peace.

Flowers for Jesus: A Story of Thérèse of Lisieux as a Young Girl. Little Thérèse Martin could be a very stubborn young girl. All too often, if someone wanted her to say “yes,” she wanted to say “no”! But then, as she is preparing for her First Communion, Thérèse discovers a way to turn her everyday trials and tribulations into something beautiful for Jesus. Join Thérèse (and her family) as she learns to “gather roses from amid thorns.” Available in hardcover and softcover editions.

La Florecita de Jesús: Una Parábola de Santa Teresita Del Niño Jesús. This is the Spanish-language edition of The Little Flower. La autora Becky Arganbright ha adoptado las enseñanzas de las orecitas de santa Teresita en esta encantadora parábola para niños. La joven Teresita aprende que aunque es pequeña, con la ayuda de Dios, su pequeñez puede ser una manera de hacer grandes cosas para Dios.  La ilustradora Tracey Arvidson da vida a la joven Teresa Martín, y a sus ores en la parábola, con sus maravillosas ilustraciones.

Molly McBride and the Purple Habit. Meet Molly McBride! Molly loves her new purple habit — it’s just like the ones her friends, the Children of Mary Sisters, wear. She loves it so much, in fact, that she doesn’t want to take it off…not even for her sister’s big day! Join Molly and her wolf-pet Francis as they learn all about nuns, habits, and giving your heart to Jesus.

Living Sparks of God: Stories of Saints for Young Catholics to Color. Here are fourteen lively two-minute stories to introduce young Catholics to some of the Church’s most beloved saints. Each story is accompanied by two coloring pages: a gorgeously detailed portrait of the saint, and a scene of the saint in action.

The Gift of Birth: Discerning God’s Presence During Childbirth. Is the process of giving birth a medical problem to be solved, a hurdle to be overcome on the way to motherhood . . . or is it something more? Could it be, as Susan Windley-Daoust proposes, that giving birth is a gift from God, laden with signs that speak to women about their identity, their calling, and their destiny? If so, then learning to read those embodied signs during pregnancy and labor could transform the way women experience childbirth. These signs reveal that God is not only powerfully present in the whole birthing process, but desires to actively work with women to bring forth new life.

Little Lessons from St. Thérèse of Lisieux: An Introduction to Her Words and WisdomLittle Lessons from St. Thérèse of Lisieux presents brief excerpts from Story of a Soul as a way of introducing those unfamiliar with Thérèse to some of the essential themes of her spirituality. The words of St. Thérèse  are accompanied by the artwork of award-winning watercolorist Jeanine Crowe, a wonderful aid to prayerful meditation on the words and wisdom of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Little Lessons from St. Thérèse of Lisieux includes twenty-one selections from the words of St. Thérèse, twenty artworks, and ten questions for reflection and discussion.

The Little Flower: A Parable of St. Thérèse of Liseux. Becky Arganbright has adapted St. Thérèse’s lesson of the little flowers into a delightful parable for children. The young Thérèse learns that even though she might be little, with God’s help, her littleness can be a way of doing great things for the Kingdom of God. Illustrator Tracey Arvidson brings the young Thérèse Martin (and the flowers of her parable) to life in gorgeous illustrations.

Sense of the Sacred: Illuminated Book of Catholic PrayersSense of the Sacred: Illuminated Book of Catholic Prayers contains thirty traditional Catholic prayers every child should have at hand, each accompanied by a beautiful, hand-drawn illustration to aid in prayerful meditation on the mysteries of the faith.

Sense of the Sacred: A Coloring Book for Young Illuminators. For centuries, the Catholic Church has used art to illuminate the sacred mysteries of the Faith. Now, your child can follow in that tradition by making sacred art with the help of Sense of the Sacred: Coloring Book for Young Illuminators. This book contains 30 hand-drawn illustrations and accompanying Bible verses, drawing on the rich legacy of statues and stained glass in our Catholic Faith.

Follow Regina Lordan:
Regina Lordan, a digital editor at Peanut Butter & Grace, is a mother of three with master’s degrees in education and political science. She currently reviews books for Catholic News Service and is a former assistant international editor of Catholic News Service.

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