Dec. 25-31: Octave of Christmas
Christmas + St. Stephen + St. John + Holy Innocents + Feast of the Holy Family
OUR PRAYER FOR YOU THIS CHRISTMAS . . .
May your children sleep late on Christmas morning, and may you be granted the grace to enjoy them for who they are—gifts of God, pointing you to his presence.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
TOP 5 CATHOLIC THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS
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.
Make a new Christmas tradition (or two). Check out these 20 Catholic ways of celebrating the Christmas season, plus a few fun traditions that aren’t necessarily Catholic, but are too fun to pass up.
Use Rogue One to your advantage. Are your older kids obsessing over Rogue One, the new Star Wars movie? Jen Schlameuss-Perry has some intriguing questions for them . . . like, were the Rebels always the good guys?
Annoy your kids with our Christmas trivia questions. Hey, turnabout is fair play, right?
Evangelize at Christmas Mass. Attendance at many Catholic parishes doubles or triples at Christmas, which makes it the perfect time for reaching out and gently evangelizing. John J. Boucher has nine suggestions for how to do that . . . to which we’ll add out own, cribbed from the mission for Christmas Day in the MISSION:CHRISTIAN journal: Have your kids make little homemade Christmas cards, maybe with a piece of candy attached, to distribute to families at Mass. Kids are great evangelizers! Late update: Jean Heimann at Catholic Fire has another 11 ways to evangelize at Christmastime. Wouldn’t it be great if this were a trend?
Imagine us dressed in a red Santa hat, ringing a bell. Now, imagine dropping a coin into Peanut Butter & Grace’s little red kettle. (Thanks!)
ALL THE COOL CATHOLICS ARE CHECKING OUT . . .
Fr. Michael J Denk and Fr. Jeremy Merzweiler, two fun-loving Catholic priests who do a live show on Facebook every Monday evening to preview the Sunday readings and do a little lectio divina . . . including this past Monday, when they dressed up as Buddy the Elf and a guy in a reindeer sweater to sing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” on a ukulele and guitar. (Santa Claus actually pays a visit.) It’s very, very, very silly fun, but interwoven with some serious evangelization, including prayer and good preparation for Christmas Mass. If you want to skip the silliness to get to the prayer part, skip ahead to about 12 minutes in.
FRIENDS YOUR KIDS SHOULD HANG OUT WITH THIS WEEK
On the first three days after Christmas, we remember three types of martyrs, represented by St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents. They remind us about the true meaning of Christmas: the Son of God has come to give his whole self to us!
St. Stephen (Monday), the deacon who became the first Christian martyr. The Acts of the Apostles says he was one of seven deacons appointed by the 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.
St. John the Apostle (Tuesday), 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.
Holy Innocents (Wednesday), the children who died in the place of Christ because of King Herod’s sin. They are martyrs by blood alone.
St. Thomas Beckett (Thursday), Thomas Beckett (1118-1170) 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.”
MARK YOUR (CATHOLIC) CALENDAR FOR . . .
- Feast of the Holy Family (Fri, Dec 30)
- Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God (Jan 1)
- World Day of Peace (Jan 1)
- Poverty Awareness Month (January)
“God could have come wrapped in glory, splendor, light and power, to instill fear, to make us rub our eyes in amazement. But instead he came as the smallest, the frailest and weakest of beings. Why? So that no one would be ashamed to approach him, so that no one would be afraid, so that all would be close to him and draw near him, so that there would be no distance between us and him. God made the effort to plunge, to dive deep within us, so that each of us, each of you, could speak intimately with him, trust him, draw near him and realize that he thinks of you and loves you…”
—Blessed Paul VI, 1971
STUFF SOME CATHOLIC STUFF INTO THOSE STOCKINGS
Molly McBride and the Purple Habit (softcover, $10.99)
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.
You wanted the Illuminated Rosary in an affordable hardcover, and we listened . . . now you can purchase a hardcover set for just $80. That’s $20 per book, each of which runs about 130 pages and includes more than 60 works of sacred art. Get it exclusively from Gracewatch Media.
Flowers for Jesus: A Story of Thérèse of Lisieux as a Young Girl (softcover, $10.99)
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.” With vibrant watercolors and storytelling, Flowers for Jesus introduces kids to St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s spirituality of “the Little Way.”
The Little Flower: A Parable of St. Thérèse of Liseux (softcover, hardcover, or Spanish)
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.
Little Lessons from St. Francis of Assisi: A Prayer for Peace (softcover, $10.99)
“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. Join award-winning artist Jeanine Crowe as she meditates on this powerful prayer in words and watercolors.