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The Fruitless Vineyard • Family Time

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Reading Time: 16 minutes


October 8-14: 27th Week of Ordinary Time

St. Pope John XXIII + Blessed John Cardinal Newman + St. Denis + Fatima 100th anniversary + Our Lady of the Pillar




1. Start planning your All Saints’ Day party. For Catholics, Halloween is just the warm-up for the real celebration: All Saints’ Day! You can provide a Christian counterpoint to the ghosts and goblins by planning an All Saints’ Day party for your family—or, if you’re ambitious, for your parish. Check out how in 6 Ideas for the Best All Saints Day Party Ever.

Get 50% off 10 or more copies of the new Peanut Butter & Grace book, The All Saints’ Day Party, when you enter coupon code PARTY50 at checkout.

2. Be fruitful. This week’s readings feature a pair of vineyards, neither of which produce a good crop for its owner. Preview the Sunday Scriptures with your kids and the good help of Jen Schlameuss-Perry in Breaking Open the Word at Home.

3. Participate in three easy pro-life activities with your family. With the hustle and bustle of everyday family life, it can be hard to find time to share the gospel of life with others. Here are three easy ways to start living the culture of life in your home with little to no extra effort.

We’re selling the Miracle of Life coloring books for 20% off during the month of October. Quantities are limited.

4. Try the Daily Decalogue of St. Pope John XXIII with your kids. The feast day of St. Pope John XXIII is Wednesday; mark the occasion by reciting the good pope’s “Daily Decalogue,” ten spiritual goals “only for today.”

5. Mark the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Fatima. Check your local parish and diocesan websites for events. Then check out a few family-friendly resources to help celebrate the day:

6. Share the journey of migrants and refugees with your family. The U.S. bishops have called for a Week of Prayer and Action to support the pope’s kickoff of the Share the Journey campaign. Here are six ways your family can participate.

7. Start a fun family birthday tradition. Here’s a super-simple birthday tradition that requires no prep—really! Even though it’s simple, it gets to the heart of why we celebrate birthdays…and it creates good feelings and memories for your kids. Check it out in A Family Birthday Ritual: Why We’re Glad You Were Born.

8. Mark the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Oh, Catechism, how the years have flown! Seems like only yesterday that the nightly news was chuckling over your entry on the immorality of speeding. In any case, we plan to celebrate your 25th birthday on Wednesday (Oct 11) with cake and a reading from your introduction (no one ever reads your introduction!), followed by a wine and cheese tasting. Or, we’ll just quiz our kids over dinner. In any case…happy birthday!

9. Watch Paddington with your family. It’s not always easy to find a live-action movie that the whole family can enjoy together. Enter Paddington, a fun and well-done British film that’s based on the beloved children’s books. Here’s our review for Catholic families.

10. Meditate on the rosary with sacred art. In this month of the rosary, Sara Dethloff has collected 50+ works of sacred art from our Illuminated Rosary series in four Pinterest boards (one for each mystery). You can use the art to create an online slideshow to help your kids say their rosary.



Over in PB & Grace Parents, we’re talking about an interesting TED Talk about what researchers are learning about child development from a massive longitudinal study in Great Britain. Also, we’re trying out a new daily “Parenting Challenge.” It’s a closed Facebook group, so you’ll need to request to be added.



Write an encouraging quote from Scripture or from one of this week’s saints on an index card and slip it in your child’s lunch bag or spouse’s briefcase.



Blessed Henry Newman (1801-1890)
Born in London, England, John Henry Newman spent the first half of his life as an Anglican priest and theologian well-known for his preaching and writing. He was a leading figure of the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the role of Church history—the lived experience of believers—in shaping theology. His historical research eventually led him to leave the Church of England in order to join the Catholic Church. Although his ideas were at first rejected by many in the Church, over time they were accepted and incorporated into the way the Church reflects on itself and its place in the world. Newman was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XXIII. Shortly after his death, Catholic college campus ministries began to take his name; today, “Newman Centers” dot the landscape of higher education. “Nothing would be done at all if one waited until one could do it so well that no one could find fault with it.”


St. Denis (d. 258)
The first Bishop of Paris, and one of the patron saints of France. He was martyred by beheading; according to a popular legend, the decapitated bishop picked up his head and walked several miles while preaching a sermon. He is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.



St. Daniel Comboni (1831-1881)
Daniel Comboni devoted his life to the cause of evangelizing Africa, founding the Comboni Missionaries and devising a plan to prepare African Christians to catechize their fellow Africans: “Save Africa with Africa,” was his motto. He eventually was made the first bishop of central Africa. Despite the many hardships and challenges he faced, he said: “The thought that one sweats and dies for the love of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the most abandoned souls in the world is far too sweet for us to desist from this great enterprise.”



St. John XXIII (November 25, 1881 – June 3, 1963)
As pope, John XXIII was known for his humility, his sense of humor, and calling the Church to reflect on its relationship with the world during the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II. His feast day falls not on the anniversary of his death, but on the anniversary of the first day of the Council. Earlier in his life, John was a stretcher-bearer in World War I and used his authority as a diplomat to help about 24,000 people escape the Nazis during World War II. Known as the “Good Pope,” St. John’s daily decalogue included simple ways to live life fully and fruitfully. He said: “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.” 



Our Lady of the Pillar
According to tradition, it was on this date in the year 40 that the apostle James, discouraged about his mission to Spain, prayed on the banks of the Ebro River. Mary, who was still living, appeared to him in a vision. She told him that the faith of the people of Spain would be as strong as the pillar she stood on, and asked him to build a chapel on the spot. Today, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar attracts thousands of pilgrims to Zaragosa, Spain.



St. Gerald of Aurillac (c. 855 – c. 909)
A cool saint you’ve never heard of before who should be way more popular than he is. He was a French count who wanted to become a monk, but was counseled that he could do more good in his position of worldly power. He took a secret vow to serve God and did so in the course of his duties. The Life of St. Gerald of Aurillac by St. Odo of Cluny contains a number of entertaining details and anecdotes, if you’re willing to dig through the original manuscript for them. He said: “It is well that I learn that it is better for me to trust in God than in man.”

100th Anniversary of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima
On October 13, 1917, three young children in Fatima, Portugal, experienced the culmination of a series of Marian apparitions; during the apparition on that day, Mary revealed her identity as Our Lady of the Rosary, and the children—along with some 70,000 onlookers and news media—witnessed the “Miracle of the Sun.” 



St. Callistus I (d. 223)
A slave in ancient Rome who eventually was put in charge of the first Christian cemetery; later, the pope made him a deacon, and when the pope died, Callistus himself was elected pope. He and St. Hippolytus didn’t get along—Hippolytus thought that he should have been pope instead, and that Callistus was too forgiving. And indeed, St. Callistus said: “If offenses abound, then, let mercy also abound; for with the Lord there is mercy.”




Peanut Butter & Grace recommends families use Give Us This Day or another daily missal for daily readings, saint stories, and prayers. Give Us This Day is available at Amazon or directly from Liturgical Press. The app is available from your favorite app store.



Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R. 36). It is expected to come to the House floor the first week of October. The bill, introduced by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), proposes a ban on abortions starting at 20 weeks after fertilization.

In a September 29 letter to the House, Cardinal Dolan wrote, “All decent and humane people are repulsed by the callous and barbarous treatment of women and children in clinics…that abort children after 20 weeks.”

“Planned Parenthood’s callous and disturbing practices of harvesting fetal body parts from late-term abortions, partial-birth abortions, and the deplorable actions of late-term abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell…, have shocked our nation and led many Americans to realize that our permissive laws and attitudes have allowed the abortion industry to undertake these procedures,” Cardinal Dolan said, calling the 20-week ban a “common-sense reform.”

The Cardinal offered reasons why “the proposed ban on abortion at 20 weeks after fertilization is a place to begin uniting Americans who see themselves as ‘pro-life’ and as ‘pro-choice’.” The first centers on the expanding range of fetal ‘viability’. “The Supreme Court’s past insistence that unborn children must be ‘viable’ to deserve even nominal protection is not meaningful or workable…[M]edical technology is moving the point of viability earlier in the pregnancy putting Roe on a collision course with itself.” Second, there are life-threatening dangers to women undergoing abortions beyond 20 weeks. Finally, addressing the proposal to perform late-term abortions in “mainstream” clinics, he notes that those clinics generally refuse to perform the risky procedures. “What does it say about us as a nation, if we will not act against abortions that even full-time abortionists find abhorrent?” Cardinal Dolan asked.

Read the full letter here.



“In our times we need to pray so much—Christians, Jews and Muslims—for peace.” 

—Pope Francis



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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 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 Jerry Windley-Daoust:

Publisher, Gracewatch Media

Jerry Windley-Daoust is a writer, editor, and father of five. He writes essays and stories at Windhovering and is the show-runner for Gracewatch Media, a small Catholic publisher. You can follow his latest publishing projects at gracewatch.org.

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