Holy Week

The Last Supper by Vincente Juan Macip

Holy Week is the most sacred time of the year. It is a time for preparation. It is also when we observe Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

It begins on Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter. At Mass on Palm Sunday we receive blessed palms to remember how the people from Jerusalem paid homage to Jesus by laying down palms on the ground in front of Him as He entered into their city on a donkey. With some of our palms we make crosses to remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We also place a couple palms behind the crucifix that hangs over our front door.

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Holy Week we deep clean and organize our home, and give away things that our family no longer needs or uses. This outward sign of cleaning symbolizes the internal preparations being made in our hearts and minds, making them clean for Jesus as we lead up to the most important feast day of the liturgical year.

On Wednesday of Holy Week, also known as “Spy Wednesday,” we hide thirty quarters to represent the thirty pieces of silver Judas received for betraying Jesus, and the children find them.

This year we also added in a family Tenebrae (Latin for “darkness”) Service where we light fifteen beeswax candles – fourteen darker ones to represent Jesus’ followers and one white one to represent Jesus. We read special prayers and blow out the candles one by one until only the white candle is left, representing all of Jesus’ followers abandoning Him. The white candle is then hidden and we make a loud bang by stomping on the ground. The white candle is then brought back to represent Jesus being the Light of the World. All of the details and materials for this ancient tradition can be found here on Kendra’s blog.

On Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, it is customary to visit seven different churches. We’ve never done this, but we do hope to do this in the future! I think this would be wonderful to do with your family if you’re able to. It’s also when we wash each other’s feet in remembrance of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper. It starts with the father washing the mother’s feet, then the mother washing the oldest child’s feet, and so on until it gets to the youngest child who in turn washes the father’s feet, if possible. We do a somewhat modified washing of the feet where we pour water over our family members’ feet and then dry them with a towel.

After the washing of the feet we have a Christian Seder meal in remembrance of the Passover meal Jesus and His disciples ate at the Last Supper. For our Holy Thursday meal we eat steak to represent the Sacrificial Lamb (traditionally lamb is eaten but we substitute this with steak), cinnamon applesauce for the haroset, spinach for a bitter herb to represent Judas’ betrayal, pita bread for unleavened bread, and red grape juice for the wine. Although we haven’t done this, many Catholic families also make a lamb cake for dessert using a cake mold in the shape of a lamb.

After the meal we read the Bible readings about the Last Supper including Exodus 12:1-20 (the story of the first Passover) and the institution of the Eucharist from Matthew 26:17:30; Mark 14:12-26 or Luke 22:7-20.

Since Good Friday is the day Jesus suffered and died, we try to keep this day as reverent as possible, which of course isn’t always easy to do with young children! Some of the activities we do include listening to solemn music (such as the “Lent at Ephesus” album by Benedictines Of Mary, Queen of Apostles), read about Jesus’ Passion, and paint or color pictures of Jesus on the cross. Between noon and three o’clock we try to stay as still and quiet as possible and we pray the Stations of the Cross. (See the Stations of the Cross Banner we made here.) In the evening we watch part three of “Jesus of Nazareth” as a family.

On Holy Saturday we decorate the house for Easter, dye Easter eggs, and read books about Easter. Our favorite is “The First Easter” pictured below. The illustrations are so beautiful!

On Holy Saturday night we read this amazing excerpt from an ancient homily about Jesus’ descent into the afterlife as we await His glorious Resurrection.

And finally, we celebrate Easter Sunday by enjoying the things left in the Easter baskets by the Easter bunny; having an Easter egg hunt that includes a golden egg with twenty dollars inside of it; eating a big feast with ham, carrots, rolls, green bean casserole, and broccoli cheddar rice; enjoying the company of loved ones; and most importantly attending Easter Sunday Mass where we receive Our Risen Lord’s body, blood, soul and divinity in the Holy Eucharist as we rejoice and give thanks to Jesus for His loving and selfless sacrifice for our sins!

How do you observe Holy Week? Let me know in the comments below!

St. Catherine of Sweden

St. Catherine of Sweden, pray for us!

March 24th is the feast day of St. Catherine of Sweden, the daughter of St. Bridget of Sweden. St. Catherine of Sweden was born in the early 14th century in Motala. At the age of seven she was sent to live in an abbey to be educated, and to foster her love for God.

When she was thirteen it was arranged by her father for her to marry a German nobleman named Egard. He was a deeply religious man who agreed to take a perpetual vow of chastity with her. They lived a rich spiritual life together, helping each other to grow in virtue. They were known for their charitable service to others.

After her husband and mother died she became the head of the Order of the Holy Savior, a convent founded by her mother. She also promoted her mother’s canonization and became friends with Catherine of Siena.

She is usually pictured with lilies to represent her chastity and a red deer to protect her purity. She was canonized in the 15th century by Pope Innocent the VIII.

She is the patron saint for women who have suffered miscarriages, and for protection against miscarriage.

Prayer to St. Catherine of Sweden for Healing and Consolation After a Miscarriage

Dear Saint Catherine, patron of those who have suffered a miscarriage, you know the dangers that await unborn infants.

Please intercede for me that I may receive healing from the loss I have suffered. 
My soul has been deprived of peace and I have forgotten what true happiness is.

As I mourn the loss of my child, I place myself in the hands of God and ask for strength to accept His will in all things, for consolation in my grief, and for peace in my sorrow.

Glorious Saint Catherine, hear my prayers and ask that God, in good time, grant me a healthy baby who will become a true child of God.

Amen.

Prayer to St. Catherine of Sweden for a Healthy Pregnancy and for Avoiding Miscarriage

Dear Saint Catherine, you know the temptations of mothers today as well as the dangers that await unborn infants.

Intercede for me that I may avoid miscarriage and bring forth a healthy baby who will become a true child of God.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank and praise You for the gift of all human life.
I am most especially grateful for the new life within my womb – the unborn child forming deep within me.

Through the prayers of Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the intercession of Saint Catherine of Sweden, I beg You to watch over and protect this little one inside my womb.

In Jesus’ Name.

Amen.

St. Catherine of Sweden

Whoever Believes

Raising Lazarus by Carl Bloch

“I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26

So simple, yet so profound.

So easy, yet at times so difficult.

It can be hard to believe in something that can’t be physically seen, to grasp that God created us to live in a world where it seems as though He can’t be found. 

Why would Our Heavenly Father put us on Earth, and not walk here beside us? 

Without knowing and understanding the truths that have been divinely revealed to us through the story of the fall and our redemption, these questions can cause doubt and disbelief. Our human nature only allows us to think in human terms. 

In the gospel story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, Martha affirms her belief in Jesus. Yet when Jesus says “Take away the stone” Martha says “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus, reminding her of His promise, replies “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

When we try to reason with our human minds, our human minds cause us to doubt. It is only through faith and trust in a Higher Power with a divine knowledge that surpasses our own human limitations that we can fathom a God who created us out of love to live with Him in Heaven forever, if we simply believe. 

God has not abandoned us. We are not alone. When we sinned and were naked in the garden, He clothed us. When we crucified Him and He ascended into Heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit here to dwell among us. He gave us the sacrament of baptism to cleanse our souls from original sin, confession to reconcile us when we fall, matrimony and Holy Orders to fulfill His plans for the family and His church, and He sustains us with His own body and blood through the Holy Eucharist.

Today on this 5th Sunday of Lent, let us pray that we can surrender ourselves to God’s divine providence and wisdom, to rely not on our own human minds but instead to fully believe and trust in the Eternal Word of God.

The Rosary

St. Dominic, pray for us!

When I met my future husband he wasn’t Catholic. In fact, I would go as far as to say he was anti-Catholic. I, on the other hand, was discerning a vocation to the religious life. We became friends, through God’s providential wisdom and intervention, and he asked me if he could visit me when I became a nun.

Although we were on completely different paths, I believe we both knew deep down that our lives would be forever intertwined. And here we are now, happily married for over twenty years and the parents of seven children.

My husband credits his conversion to the Rosary. I would pray the Rosary every night. One night he asked to join me, and the rest is history. Never underestimate the power of the Rosary!

We continue to see the abundant graces in our lives that have come from the recitation of the Rosary. If you don’t already pray the Rosary every day, then I highly recommend giving it a try. Some of our children are still small so we only say one decade of the Rosary together as a family each evening. Then, when I go to bed I say a full Rosary before I go to sleep. It’s very comforting, and something I look forward to every day.

Mary’s Promises

Tradition holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Dominic (the founder of the Dominican order) in the 13th century and made these 15 promises to him:

1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
4. The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenititude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

A guide for praying the Holy Rosary can be found here: https://www.usccb.org/how-to-pray-the-rosary

Mother Mary, pray for us!
St. Dominic, pray for us!

Feast of St. Patrick

St. Patrick, pray for us!

The Feast Day of St. Patrick, observed every year on March 17th, is a fun celebration that falls right in the middle of Lent, allowing for a little bit of joy amidst the penitential Lenten season. My husband and I both have Irish ancestry, which makes this feast day even more meaningful for our family.

We like to decorate with shamrocks, our St. Patrick statue, and our Irish Angel statue.

For our St. Patrick’s day meal we make and eat traditional Irish foods including corned beef with cabbage and Irish soda bread.

For desert we make shamrock shaped sugar cookies decorated with green frosting.

We also like to read about the life of St. Patrick and the history of the traditions incorporated into this feast day’s celebration.

For our St. Patrick’s Day crafts this year we traced, cut out, and painted shamrocks. We also painted wooden Celtic crosses.

Hopefully this gave you some ideas for celebrating the Feast of St. Patrick! Now it’s your turn, let me know what your family does to celebrate in the comments!

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
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

Stations of the Cross Banner Project

On Fridays during Lent we pray the Stations of the Cross together as a family (at 3 pm if possible). This year I saw a lot of other Catholic families making a Stations of the Cross banner and decided it would be a good project for our family to do together!

Rather than worrying about it being perfect, I decided to let everyone who wanted to participate get a job to do. Some of the kids were in charge of cutting, some got to glue, and some helped to put the stations on the twine string. The youngest helper was in charge of cutting out the prayers.

The materials we used were:

  1. The Stations of the Cross images and prayers found here: https://www.familyfeastandferia.com/printables/stations-of-the-cross-for-children/
  2. A burlap table runner cut in half, and then cut into banner flags
  3. Scissors
  4. Glue
  5. Hole puncher
  6. Cotton twine
  7. Grapevine wreath

All of these supplies are available on Amazon.

Cutting the burlap with the scissors was a little messy, as was the glue leaking through the burlap. It also took a little bit of effort to punch the holes (I was in charge of this job after one of the children thought it was hard to do).

All in all though it was a fun and easy project that we all enjoyed doing! And now we have a beautiful visual to use as we pray the Stations of the Cross.

If you’ve done this project leave a comment below to let me know how it turned out!

St. Joseph Novena

St. Joseph, foster father of the Son of God, pray for us!

As the person who is closest to Jesus and Mary, St. Joseph is arguably the second most powerful intercessor to Our Lord, preceded only by his beloved wife.

St. Joseph is the head of the Holy Family and is the perfect model for us as we strive to raise our families in the ways of Our Heavenly Father. Let us turn to him then for his help, and allow him to intercede for us on behalf of our families.

The St. Joseph Novena is traditionally said from March 10th until the Feast Day of St. Joseph on March 19th, however it can be said any time of the year. There are many different versions of the St. Joseph Novena, but this one is my favorite. Say the prayer below (or whichever St. Joseph Novena prayer you prefer) each day for nine days. Be sure to include your own personal prayer intention(s) as well.

St. Joseph Novena Prayer

Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so prompt, so strong, before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most Loving of Fathers.

Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.

St. Joseph, Patron of departed souls – pray for us.

Amen.

St. Frances of Rome

Frances of Rome by Giovanni Battista Gaulli

On March 9th we celebrate the feast of St. Frances of Rome, an Italian wife and mother who lived in the late 14th and early 15th century. 

At a young age Frances decided she wanted to become a nun, however, her wealthy father objected. It was arranged for her to marry a young nobleman from another wealthy family. 

She complained to her confessor, who in turn replied, “Are you crying because you want to do God’s will, or because you want God to do your will?”

She then reluctantly accepted her role as a wife in order to fulfill God’s will, however she still longed for a quiet, contemplative life away from the social demands her position required. 

As Catholic mothers it’s often hard to balance the demands of family life with our desire to live quiet, contemplative lives devoted to Our Lord. 

I know at times I would love to be able to retreat into a quiet space and get lost in lost in a good Catholic book or indulge in prayer and conversation with my Father in Heaven. 

However, with my responsibilities of cleaning the house, making meals, homeschooling, and caring for an infant it seems as if there’s not much time left for the contemplative life. 

But then I remind myself that every act of service I do for my family, is actually done for God. Every dish washed, every meal prepared, every lesson taught, and every care given to my baby is a prayer given to God. 

Marriage and motherhood are demanding and require a lot of time and effort, but the rewards are endless. And when we long to give our time to Jesus instead, it’s important to remember that by accepting this vocation we are loving Him and doing His will for our lives, thus giving Him what He desires from us.

St. Frances went on to be a devoted wife and mother, mystic, philanthropist, and founder of a religious community.

St. Frances of Rome, pray for us! 

Welcome

Hello, fellow Catholic mom! I’m so glad you’re here. I’m a blessed Catholic wife and homeschooling mom of seven. I created this blog to share with you how our family celebrates the liturgical seasons and feast days throughout the year, to inspire you to joyfully fulfill your vocation of motherhood as you care for your domestic church, and to share reviews of Catholic products and services that are of interest to us moms as we strive to raise our children in the faith. Thanks for following along, I look forward to getting to know you in the comments!