Beauty surrounds the Feast of the Annunciation

Paolo_de_Matteis_-_The_AnnunciationThe Feast of the Annunciation is a beloved feast day for it is the day we rejoice in Mary’s YES!  It only stands to reason that we and the Church rejoice as it is the day that the “Word was made Flesh!”  There was a very dear priest in our diocese, one of those rare individuals who inspired countless people with his unwavering trust in Divine Providence…even in the most difficult and trying situations he reminded us to trust. He loved the Blessed Mother and like her was transformed by his YES to a life in service to God and in turn transformed all of us!  Everyone prayed that he would live to celebrate his 100th birthday, but he actually died just a few short hours of the day. However, nine months earlier he would cheerfully and enthusiastically remind all of us that indeed he was already 100 years old since he counted his age from the time of his conception in his mother’s womb. What a testimony to all of us as to the sanctity of life in the womb, the unborn! Today is no ordinary day but a great day to pause from our day to day routines and take time to celebrate this momentous event in all our lives!

“In families with young children, this feast would be a good time to begin teaching youngsters important lessons about the inestimable value God places on human life. 

Mary with baby JesusFirst, that He loved us so much that He chose to become one of us — to take on our humanity so completely that he “became flesh”, as utterly weak and dependent as any human infant is.   Second, God became “like us in all things except sin” at the moment of His conception in Mary’s womb, not at some later time.  The Feast of the Annunciation is a celebration of the actual Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Children may, quite naturally, think that the birth of Jesus is the time when Our Savior first ‘became Man,’ especially since Christmas has become the Christian holiday in our culture.  We understand best what we can see, what is visible.  The invisible, the hidden is, no less real for our lack of seeing it.  (We think of the baby in its mother’s womb, known and felt, though unseen, only to her.)

Even very young children can know the truth about the growth of a baby inside its mother’s body, especially If the mother of the family (or an aunt, perhaps) happens to be pregnant on the holiday.  The exactly nine months’ wait from March 25th to December 25th for the Baby to be born would be interesting to most children.  (God made no special rules for His own bodily development!) What better way than reading the first chapter of Luke to gently begin teaching children about the beginning of each new human life?

Children should be told how important it is to every person that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1), and parents can find this feast a valuable teaching moment. 

teaching-youth-religious-values.jpg.crop_displayThe Catechism of the Catholic Church on Article 3 of the Creed, “He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary” (#436-511), should be read by parents.  This will not only give adults a timely review of Catholic doctrine, but it can be a great help to us in transmitting important truths of the faith to our children.  The summary at the end can help formulate points we want to emphasize. Excerpts from the Catechism  could be read aloud to older children.” (http://www.ewtn.com/library/FAMILY/MARCH25.TXT)

In hope of inspiring you to pause from your regular curriculum may I suggest the following:

You can begin with the prayers associated with Mary and her Fiat, the Angelus, the Magnificat  and an Annunciation prayer too! (http://www.marypages.com/Annunciation.htm).  Over the centuries these same prayers inspired lovely Classical  pieces of music.  As I started to research them, I had no idea of the veritable wealth of music giving Glory to unborn Christ Child. Do plan on spending your quiet time today listening to this beautiful music and hear the joy!

William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_Song_of_the_Angels_(1881)_edit

The Magnificat, Canticle of Mary, Song of Mary, Latin Hymn, Daughters of Mary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9QtEb8XNr4

Bach – Magnificat in D major, BWV 243 : Harnoncourthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oL_qsKPeik

Antonio Vivaldi – Magnificat in G Minor RV  610:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDQREd7Ahys

MOZART Vesperae de Dominica, KV 321 – [6] Magnificat KOOPMAN:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuOT1LMFIQA

Franz Schubert – Magnificat in C major, D486:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itQNbtXXhzE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can also see that this momentous event also inspired much artwork. Three years ago Larry and I found a gorgeous rendition of the Annunciation by the artist Jan Van Eyck on our 25th Wedding Anniversary, or should I say it found us, as a reminder of our YES to each other and to God. It is currently at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, a trip we will have to make soon to see the original! Today you can explore the work here where you can take a closer look and explore its symbolism: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.46.html?opensection=overview

And that is not the only image of the Annunciation, visit these sites to gaze at all the beauty. The following sites have a multitude of beautiful Classical artwork to share with your family:

http://www.abcgallery.com/L/leonardo/leonardo36.html (Leonardo Da Vinci The Annunciation.  Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy)

http://www.abcgallery.com/B/botticelli/botticelli34.html (Sandro Boticelli Cestello Annunciation Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy)

http://www.abcgallery.com/virgin.html#Annunciation (many other masterpieces)

For your younger set I found several coloring pages that you can print whereby they grant copyright permission  to print and use any original material or ideas for individual or classroom use.

Crayones de cera

Coloring pages:

This site has about 10 different images to choose from different sources: http://printablecolouringpages.co.uk/?s=the+annunciation

This one comes to us compliments from the parish church in Front Royal Virginia St. John the Baptist Catholic Church where we just went last weekend! http://www.sjtb.org/images/Annunciation.pdf

Here is a simple outline coloring page for the littlest ones:http://www.sermons4kids.com/mary_angel_colorpg.htm

For a bit of fun here are pictures that the kids can color on-line, changing the colors and printing off the version they like best! : http://www.supercoloring.com/pages/annunciation

http://www.thecolor.com/Coloring/simone-martini-the-annunciation.aspx

Be certain to end the day with a delicious meal or special dessert.  My favorite cookbook, A Continual Feast has a Swedish Waffles recipe where the author explains that in Europe beginning around the twelfth century waffles were generally eaten on feast days and most certainly on the Feast of the Annunciation. You can use your own special recipe or this one:

Swedish Waffles (A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz)

swedish waffles

1 3/4 cups heavy cream, well-chilled
1 1/3 cups flour
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold water
3 tablespoons melted sweet butter

Whip the cream until stiff.  Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the water to make a smooth batter. Fold the whipped cream into the batter. Stir in the melted butter.

Heat the waffle iron. (If it is well seasoned, it will not need to be greased.) Fill the grid surface about two-thirds full of batter. Bake until golden brown.

Place on a rack to keep crisp while you make the rest of the waffles.

Yield: about 8 waffles

Emmanuel Books Holy Week & Easter Activity Kit

As the local stores fill up with Easter Bunnies and jelly beans, now is the perfect time to restore the sacredness of Holy Week and Easter.  We have researched and designed this easy to use and beautiful curriculum that will become a family favorite each year!

This kit contains faith-filled  hands-on projects that make a lasting impact on the true meaning of Holy Week and Easter. Your family will lean about:

  • Holy Week Kit email 3Resurrection Eggs, (to learn the Passion though the Resurrection Bible story),
  • A Jonah project (make Jonah, the whale and his ship and have the children decorate them and move the figures through Holy Week),
  • A sticker sheet with faithful, Catholic symbolism that truly represent the Holy Season of Easter
  • Instructions and template to make a Family Pascal Candle
  • Beautiful Easter Holy Cards to share with family and friends and practice handwriting skills
  • Notebooking pages with beautiful reverent holy images
  • Mini books of the colors of Easter and mini books for the flowers, fruit and trees associated with Easter along with pictures and descriptions of each
  • Several options for making a variety of Easter cards (4 unique designs with text and blank versions too!)

The Feast Days of Advent

In Advent, the season of preparation, it is not a coincidence that the Church gives us  some very special feast days …..beginning with our family favorite, the Feast of St. Andrew on November 30th…. we stand in thanksgiving for his “Yes” to follow Christ, to be a first disciple and bring in other disciples such as his own brother Peter… our very first Pope (we have our own Andrew & Peter, too!).
St Andrew Novena Holy cardTo help you prepare we have a a FREE download for your family of the St. Andrew Christmas Novena Holy Card!

On December 6th, next to arrive is the feast for the patron saint of children, St. Nicholas, the real “Santa Claus”… each year we layout all nine pairs of shoes by the fireplace. We  wake in the morning to treats and always chocolate coins in our shoes… and somehow miraculously, just for the children, it always seems to snow, even just a little bit here in the Mid-Atlantic .

We bake a lovely cake for the Blessed Mother’s feast of her Immaculate Conception on December 8th. 343px-Workshop_of_Bartolomé_Esteban_Murillo_-_The_Virgin_of_the_Immaculate_Conception_-_Walters_37286_framedWhen the kids were little we made our own play to celebrate both the feast of Juan Diego on the 9th ….and the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the unborn, on the 12th. We pray for her intercession and protection for the most vulnerable in our world… (Our girls sleep with their Lady of Guadalupe dolls). Quickly arrives the 13th, the feast of St. Lucy….my Swedish uncle always had us remember this day and now our oldest Anne is carrying on the tradition and waking us with cocoa and muffins….we also put up our Christmas lights outside the house on this day as my family did every year on the Festa of Santa Lucia, when I was little…

Zurbarán_St_John_of_the_crossThe next week brings St. John of the Cross on the 14th …that great Carmelite reformer…on the 21st is the feast of yet another disciple…St. Thomas… heralding us unto the birth of Our Lord on the 25th, Christmas day. Yes, it is no coincidence that God has placed these saintly celebrations to help us prepare each day towards Christmas….enjoy your family traditions…add new ones this year and most importantly pray together, adore together and thank the prince of Peace…our Lord Jesus Christ, Emmanuel!

We hope you will visit our Saints section…. and don’t forget our Advent/Christmas section which are full our great products to help you prepare for this Holy season.

We hope the following ideas and offerings will make it easy for you and your family to celebrate the feast days that fall within this glorious season of our rich Catholic heritage.

St. Nicholas Chocolate Coins - Do It Yourself KITDecember 6 – St. Nicholas: Reclaiming St. Nicholas DIY Kit
http://emmanuelbooks.com/images/large/3345.jpgDecember 8 – Immaculate Conception: Mary, Mother of God Faith Folder Lapbook KitMoments with Mary ~ Enrichment Activities for Catholic Families: The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe ebook (PDF)December 9 & 12- St. Juan Diego & Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Story of Guadalupe  eBook
December 13 – St. Lucy (you can read more about this feast day in my article Saint Lucia Day~Celebrating the Feast of St. Lucy)
A Continual Feast eBook Version - 27% off - Emmanuel BooksDecember 26 – St. Stephen and December 27 – St. John Recipes included in A Continual Feast for feast days and much more!
December 28 – Holy Innocents: Prayer to end Abortion (click here for  Prayer)
December 29 – St. Thomas Beckett: Murder in the Cathedral & If all the Swords in England (ebook)
December 30 – Holy Family Framed Artwork (click here for beautiful images from one of our favorite family businesses: Catholic to the Max)
Kat-Thomas-CFEV
January 1 – Feast of Mary:
January 4 -St. Elizabeth Ann Seton:  Kat Finds a Friend (eBook)
January 5 – St. John Neumann: Thomas Finds a Treasure (eBook)
January 6 – Epiphany: A Continual Feast includes a recipe for King’s Cake, which is how our family celebrates the feast of the Epiphany and Advent and Christmas for the Christian Family has wonderful ideas on celebrating Epiphany.

Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings
This Thanksgiving Day share with family and friends the original proclamation from President George Washington that, in 1789, proclaimed this holiday a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to God:
Thanksgiving Proclamation
George Washington
President of the United States of America
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and
Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness”:
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we many then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have enabled do establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for the great and various favors which He has been please to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our national government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York,
the 3d day of October, AD 1789
George Washington

Santa Lucia Day ~ Celebrating the Feast of St. Lucy (December 13)

The Feast of St. Lucy 

We are praying for all of you as we await the Light of the World.

The feast of St. Lucy or better known in my Italian family as Santa Lucia is the day our family traditionally sets up our outdoor Christmas lights display. It is one of the events we look forward to as we build towards Christmas. Growing up in my Italian family this is the day each year we would light our Christmas tree too! We had an artificial tree (real ones were just too pricey for this New York City family, no balsam growing in Brooklyn and Queens). It didn’t matter that it was not real, the minute the lights went on we held our breath in awe and wonder!

SONY DSC

In our family we have celebrated the Swedish tradition, (I had a Swedish uncle too) whereby the oldest daughter, in our case it was always our Anne  (pictured above), who woke early to make breakfast treats and hot cocoa. She would don her battery-operated, candle wreath (no real candles for this momma) and served the entire family in bed. The honor has passed down through the years to the next daughter in line, only to fall back to Anne again this year now graduated from college!

♦♦♦

Here are some terrific ideas for St. Lucy celebrations with your family!

Firstly, find out together who St. Lucy is and what does she have to do with light. Hint, Lucy means “light.” As she was an early Christian martyr there are several versions of the story. Here’s a spoiler, her eyes have something to do with the story. A miracle ensued and for her martyrdom she now wears a heavenly crown.

st.lucy2_large

Watch this lovely video explaining the traditions surrounding this feast day and its association with Advent.

St. Lucy Fast Facts and Activities

Click on the link below for a wealth of information including her story, prayers, many recipes including a St. Lucy crown, traditions from different countries, activities and party ideas that can be easily added to your Advent celebration of St. Lucy:

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2013-12-13

Coloring pages, song, puppets and puzzle that are fast and fun:

http://www.makinglearningfun.com/themepages/StLuciaDayPrintables.htm

Here is an ENTIRE Pinterest board dedicated to St. Lucia with tons of resources including recipes, and free downloads:

https://www.pinterest.com/queenslace/crafts-december-13th-st-lucia/

♦♦♦

A Continual Feast_sm 200pxThe book, A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz is my go to source for family traditions.It not only is my best source to live the liturgical year it has recipes that simply do not disappoint! Starting on page 107, there is St. Lucy’s story and a great recipe for St. Lucy’s crown (we have made it many times- yum!). On page 109 you will find the recipe for Swedish St. Lucy ginger snaps (trying it this year) and lest we forget the adults, on page 110 one can find the recipe for Swedish mulled wine.

Don’t have a copy? Not a problem, with this instant download, no shipping….Here is the link: A Continual Feast

A fruitful and blessed Advent to all of you!!
The Ciskanik Family

Transformed by “The Hidden Power of Kindness”

Have courage and be kindLast Mother’s Day I received a lovely necklace from my children that had a hand stamped medal with the inscription “have courage and be kind,” the words and theme from the recent Cinderella movie.  The kids know how much kindness means in this world and in our families.  They know how I hold it to be preeminent in all their words and actions. Long ago I was introduced to the prolific writer, Fr. Lawrence Lovask. The same priest who wrote the dear little children’s booklets, St. Joseph Picture Books, that we all know and love, wrote with clarity and a mind to the practical for adults too!

kindness-1Transform yourself — and the world — through kindness! Kindness counts. If you have trouble acting with the consistent kindness our Lord expects, your relationships with God and those you love may be suffering. Probably you just can’t find the time — and can’t ever seem to develop the patience — that you need in order to be consistently kind amid the irritations that afflict you daily. That’s why this book is such a godsend. You’ll learn how to be kinder, even in difficult circumstances.

kindness-boys-on-path

There’s nothing complicated or magical about learning to be kinder; it just takes greater attention to the things that you do and how you do them. The Hidden Power of Kindness shows you how to become more aware of even your most offhand daily actions. You’ll find simple, step-by-step, and spiritually crucial directions for how to overcome the habitual unkindness that creeps — undetected — into the behavior of even the most careful souls. You will grow towards holiness with these beautiful and practical step-by-step instructions for overcoming all forms of unkindness and meanness.

You’ll learn:

Four ways you can become more considerate . . . immediately!

Sympathy: why it’s your spiritual responsibility to show it to others — and five ways you can start doing so.

Three things to do — and three things you must not do — in order to grow kinder quickly.

Four surprising reasons why it’s spiritually dangerous to criticize others.

Three sure-fire remedies to eliminate sinful anger from your life.

Seven ways you can turn to your own spiritual benefit the wrongs that others do to you.

Six ways you can find and root out the hidden envy that may be choking your spirit right now.

And much more to help you grow kinder — and holier!

Also includes a 67-question self-examination you can use to monitor your progress in growing kinder and holier! (.epub, 256 pages, high school+)


“This work cannot fail to influence for the good all who are indirectly or directly touched by it.” – Most Rev. Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln “This wonderful book increases our insights into the wonders of the message that speaks so powerfully to us: ‘Love is patient, love is kind . . .’ ” – Sr. Mary Rose McGeady, Covenant House

Speaks passionately about the nature of true kindness.” – Publishers Weekly

Fr. Lovasik’s book on kindness clearly shows that kindness is love put into practice, and traces how kindness must begin in our thoughts, be communicated in our words, and reach its fullest expression in our daily actions. This book is made to order for anyone seriously wanting to respond to the present movement of the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth for Christ!” – Rev. Andrew Apostoli

Paola’s Book Bites: Catholic Bibles

Beginner Bibles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Adventure Kids Bible Series
By Emily Cavins and Sarah Christmyer
Publisher: Ascension Press

This dynamic learning system is designed to teach children the story of the Bible in an interactive manner by focusing on the narrative periods and stories of the Bible. I especially love the coloring book and include it in my lesson plans for Kindergarten. Your child can color along as you read aloud the corresponding stories of the Bible. This system is based on the very successful Great Adventure line of adult Bible study materials, which have helped hundreds of thousands of people all over the world grow in love for Sacred Scripture and make reading it a part of their daily lives. Through play, memorization, prayer, and interaction, these learning tools bring familiar Bible stories into a system where children can relate them to their own life while learning the story of Salvation History. (Gr. K-6)
Kit includes:
Bible Timeline – Chart color-coded accordion-style folding chart detailing the 12 periods of Bible history. with vibrant colors and kid-friendly illustrations. Great to use with your history curriculum.
Bible Card Game Set – Instructions for five games are included designed to teach players as young as three the “big picture” of salvation history.
10” x 13” Bible Story Coloring Book – 49 pages of illustrated Bible stories. with four coloring pages from each of the 12 periods of Bible history, ideal for younger children, but helpful for all readers to capture the overall story of the Bible in the context of the 12 periods of Bible history. Best used when reading the Bible to little ones.
• Color-coded bookmark – scaled-down version of The Great Adventure Bible Timeline Chart for easy reference.
Prayer Beads – Used in conjunction with the Bible Timeline Prayer (printed on the back panel of the Great Adventure Kids Bible Timeline Chart) Designed to emphasize the important lessons God wants us to learn from each period of Bible history and helps children learn God’s plan for their lives.

cover_bibleforchildrenThe Catholic Bible for Children
Publisher: Magnificat

This is an excellent choice to use with Kindergarten or 1st graders to help them become familiar with Scripture. This is the Bible I recommend in my Kindergarten Religion Lesson Plans. From the creation of the world to the infancy of the Church, the important stories from both the Old and New Testament are vividly retold and illustrated for young people. Also included are chapters on the prophets and the psalms. A Scripture verse is offered for most stories and can be used as memory work. In the back is a glossary of important people, places and objects, providing added information. (Pre-K, 238 pages, 6½” x 8½”, Softcover, $$)

 

New Catholic Picture Bible   New Catholic Picture Bible
By Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D. 
Publisher: Catholic Book Publishing

This is a natural second Bible to follow a beginner Bible. The stories are longer and more detailed, providing ample depth for Bible retellings. Fr. Lovasik is faithful to the original Scripture in his prose of these important Bible stories. This is the preferred book for my First Grade Religion Lesson Plans. Here are Catholic stories taken from the Holy Bible, intended for the whole family and easy to understand. The first part treats the Old Testament from Adam to Christ and contains the most important and memorable events in God’s dealings with man during that time. The second part contains sixty stories from the New Testament that narrate beautifully the life, teachings, and work of Our Lord and Savior. These simply written stories, praised by leading Catholic educators for their style, will delight children time after time. (Gr. 1-3, 240 pages, 5¾” x 8¾”, HC, $)


The Golden Children’s Bible The Golden Children's Bible by Golden Books

Publisher: Penguin/Random House

Perfect for your next step after the New Catholic Picture Bible. This is a great keepsake Bible for your 3rd to 5th graders. Use it for Bible retellings (as I lay out in my 4th grade Lesson plans), or for reading alone, the language is sophisticated and provides much depth for a closer resemblance to Sacred Scripture. Main events of the Old Testament are retold chronologically. New Testament combines all four Gospels into one detailed account and gives accounts from Acts, the Epistles and even Revelation. Written in a clear, simple, yet beautiful style for children. Approved by an editorial board of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish scholars. Original copyright 1965. Realistic full-color illustrations on every page! (Gr. K-6, 510 pages, HC, $$)

Middle Grades – High School Bibles


The Ignatius Catholic Bible
 Ignatius Bible (RSV) 2nd Edition - eBook 43% Off!!

Publisher: Ignatius Press

This is our go-to Bible for our 6th grade and up children. Our kids have all received a copy as their confirmation gift and have taken these copies to college—as it was the preferred version at Christendom and Thomas Aquinas College, where our children attended. The only contemporary Catholic Bible translation in standard English is even more beautiful in word and design! There are nine color reference maps of such historical places and events as The Exodus from Egypt, Jerusalem – From David to Christ, Palestine in Christ’s Time, and The Holy Land in Modern Times. Also, the Revised Standard Version, second Catholic edition is the only Bible translation that uses standard (non-feminist) English and is in conformity with the Church’s translation guidelines found in the Vatican document, Liturgiam Authenticam. Comes in a variety of formats, Paperback, Hardcover, Compact Leather, and Large Print and eBook. ($$)


Ignatius Study Bible Series
          The Gospel According to John, Catholic Study Bible (2nd Ed.) eBook - 25% off

By Scott Hahn/Curtis Mitch
Publisher: Ignatius Press
This is a great help to you and your child’s lessons on particular books of the Bible for its rich annotations, references to other texts in the Bible and Catechism.  We also use the study questions for discussion prompts.  I often found that the material was rich in its content and touched their hearts in such a way that opened up discussions towards their relationship with God. Time is best spent once a week discussing the chapters.  How do you begin discussions of such weighty stuff?  We will use the Study Questions and Questions for Application that go with each chapter. We use the Catechism questions in the Study Guides written by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch to help the parent lead the discussion by providing detailed notes on passages and verses as well as study questions. Very accessible. I detail how to use these in my 6th and 7th grade Religion Lesson Plans. (Grade 6+, PB, or eBook, $$)

Here is a listing of the titles available: †Gospel of Matthew††Gospel of Mark††Gospel of Luke††Gospel of John††Acts of the Apostles††Letters of St. Paul††Genesis††Exodus††Job††… and many more!

The Bible Compass      The Bible Compass: A Catholic's Guide to Navigating the Scriptures
By Dr. Edward Sri
Publisher: Ascension Press

Excellent companion to Bible study in high school. The Bible is central to our faith as Catholics, but approaching such a large and complex collection of writings that span thousands of years is intimidating for most of us. The Bible Compass provides readers with the tools to study the Word of God with confidence and purpose within the living Tradition of the Catholic Church. As Catholics we are called to have an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ and the Church as revealed in the Scriptures. Reading the Bible with the proper tools and in the appropriate context will help you grow in your love for the Faith and in your relationship with Jesus Christ himself, who is “the Word made Flesh,” (John 1:1) (Gr 8+, 149 pages, PB, $$)

Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible New Testament  
Produced by Raymond Arroyo
Publisher: FutureSoft, Inc

This awesome audio bible is “…not just reading,” explains producer Raymond Arroyo, “these actors are performing, sharing these stories in the same way they were originally communicated—passed from person to person as part of an oral tradition. The stories come alive. propelling us right into history, the way it might have happened.” “… Performed like this,” he says, “you are thrown into the middle of the action. The Bible is suddenly not only understandable, but arresting and compelling.” Listening is important!!! When reading, we tend to skim and miss important points. Not only will this enhance your child’s Bible studies, it will improve listening skills and ultimately instill a more active participation at Mass. It is endorsed with an Imprimatur from the Vatican and includes a foreword by Pope Benedict XVI. Voiced by internationally-renowned actors. Go to their website truthandlifeapp.com to listen to clips from  John. (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition translation. The complete audio New Testament is 22 hours, on 18 CD’s, or now as a new app with the Ignatius Bible too, $$)

Seven Lies About Catholic History

9630480by Diane Moczar

The author takes a close look at seven lies perpetuated by the culture and academia about the Catholic Church. She does not sugar coat any of the situations or deny corruption in the Church when it did, unfortunately, occur. In every age, but especially in our modern day, historians and political powers have distorted the facts about her past to make the Church, and the civilization it fostered, seem corrupt, backward, or simply evil. You will read about how the Inquisition was not a bloodthirsty but a merciful and necessary institution. Galileo’s trial : why moderns invented a myth around it to make science appear incompatible with the Catholic faith (it’s not), The Reformation: why the 16th-century Church was not totally corrupt (as even some Catholics wrongly believe), and more. Here you will find the lessons that every Catholic needs in order to defend and explain, not just apologize for the Church’s rich and complex history. This would be especially great for students preparing to enter a secular college.

Click Here for an Instant download: Seven Lies About Catholic History 

Celebrate Shakespeare’s 400

Begin by checking out any local functions. In our area the local Shakespeare company is hosting a special one hour event whereby over 50+ people are going to recite famous lines, one by one, from ALL of his plays and do so in just one hour…noon today!  
 
If there is nothing local…you can take your family to England virtually and visit his family homes, farm and gardens. Just watch the video below for a sneak peek into his daily life!

You can also register for a FREE virtual tour for the 400 celebration  which will be broadcast today at 9:30am BUT don’t worry if you miss it, all registered viewers will be notified by email for the archived video…we just registered our family homeschool:
You can watch In Search of Shakespeare by Michael Wood on YouTube over several nights. It is a fairly balanced program that our family has seen several times and really enjoyed.  The author goes to great pains to show how he uses primary sources for his quest and ultimately presents a strong case of a Catholic man living and writing in a persecuted and dangerous time for Catholics.

Totally immerse your family in the rich language of his plays with these amazing editions that contain fabulous essays that restore a traditionalist viewpoint …celebrate Catholic Style with a few of the Bard’s most notable plays available for download, no shipping from the Ignatius Critical Editions library at Emmanuel Books.

 




Who is St. Valentine?

Who is the saint that causes us to be wild about hearts ♥, the color red and send friends and family messages of love every February 14?

The secular world has forgotten him but not Catholic families.  We know that the Church elevated a pagan feast day and its symbols by celebrating the feast day of an early martyr of the Church, St. Valentine. 

We have created an activity  packet in our “Reclaim the Saints Series”  that will help your family reclaim this feast as a celebration of God’s love for all of us. This year we added new designs and new activities and bio of the Pope who helped to Christianize this day.  Easily adaptable for a variety of ages and downloadable so you buy it once for your entire family to use each year!

We have included:

  • Ready-made cards with holy images of St. Valentine, the St Valentine Updated Version- email picImmaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus with Scripture verses.
  • Templates to make your own cards with images to cut and color and add for your own inspired design
  • Also included are 15 Scripture verses to practice handwriting
  • Mini-book templates
  • Notebooking pages
  • A coloring page of St. Valentine
  • Holy cards to cut and color
  • A history of this feast day and its symbols
  • MUCH MORE!

Click Here for the Activity Packet