Incorporate Blessings and Sacramentals into Your Family’s Life


by Mary Reed Newland, How to Raise Good Catholic Children

Then the long summer, the feasts of the saints. We share life with them in His Body. We are fledglings, learning to fly. They’re like mother birds, coaxing, cajoling, promising their help. “I was once little like you. Don’t be afraid. Lean on faith — and try.”

August . . . and with the feast of the Assumption, we have the blessing of herbs and flowers.

All year long we’ve had blessings: the blessing of throats on St. Blaise’s day; the blessing of the land and the sprouting seed on Rogation Days before the Ascension; blessing before childbirth for expectant mothers; blessing after childbirth for those who have brought forth new life; blessing of cars and of houses; blessing of typewriters; blessing of foods at Easter, of Christmas trees at Christmas.

Like radiances shining out from the sacraments are these sacramentals and the blessings.

We’ve learned to love the use of blessed candles. We’ve learned to love the use of holy water. We’ve learned to give the most beautiful blessing of all, the blessing of our own children.

Fall comes, and the earth grows brown and bare. Wise in her motherhood, the Church reminds us of death. The vigil of All Saints is Halloween, and we celebrate it as a vigil, with a party that grows out of ancient Christian customs, with begging at the door and repaying soul cakes with prayers.

The next day is the great day, the feast of All Saints, with a procession to the dinner table in honor of our special saints, stories told of their triumphs, charades acted out, and, best of all, the Litany of the Saints that night.

All through November we pray for the dead, the soon-to-be-saints we would hasten on to their glory. Not just one day, or one speech, or two minutes of silence, but thirty days of prayers, Masses, and intentions as we go about our work. With this, the year comes to its end.

Help your child to grow holier through liturgical celebration

The liturgical year is a cycle unfolding from life to death to glory. Observing it year after year, joining Christ with our love, our wills, and our understanding, we live the union of member to Body, no longer branches of the vine that are dead. We are living, bearing fruit — or at least aspiring to.

How can one be any closer to Christ?

Perhaps it sounds easy, this living the liturgical year. Or perhaps it sounds impossible. It’s neither. But it’s slow. It will come to us, and we will grow in it only as fast as the Spirit allows.

It’s not just a matter of pasting over our lives with liturgical stickers. Its outward forms — its Advent wreaths and crèches and Christmas bread, its candles and blessings, its penitential purple and ashes and palms, its stories and customs and celebrations — are nothing if interiorly we’re not on fire with its spirit.

It’s the reality of Christ’s life, and it cannot be separated from the struggle to grow Christlike.

It’s the same old struggle to love, be kind, grow in patience, work well and play well, to please God in everything we do.

But it’s supported now by the graces loosed every day by the prayer of the Church. That’s the big difference. Living liturgically, we’re really united to Him, praying the prayer of His Church.

Raising children liturgically, we’re using all the treasure at our command.

We asked the children, “How do you feel about being Catholics?” They answered, “Oh, being Catholics is fun! You have feasts, and saints, and stories, and things to do — and when you go to Mass and Father holds up our Lord, you say, ‘I love You!’ ”

“The thought of the importance of your position as a Catholic mother should be a source of joy to you, but your battle will often be hard and your spiritual consolations few. It is good sometimes to know that although you have sacrificed many of the things modern ’emancipated’ women value so highly, your humble position is still the proudest in society. You are the possessor of the hand that rocks the cradle and rules the world. You are to be the comforter, the unchanging inspiration, and the educator of souls.” – Fr. Lovasik

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This is a unique book of Catholic devotions for young children. There is nothing routine and formal about these stories. They are interesting, full of warmth and dipped right out of life. These anecdotes will help children know about God, as each one unfolds a truth about the saints, the Church, the virtues, etc. These are short faith-filled stories, with a few questions and a prayer following each one, enabling the moral of each story to sink into the minds of your little ones. The stories are only a page long so tired mothers, who still want to give that “tucking in” time a special touch, or pause a brief moment during their busy day to gather her children around her, can feel good about bringing the realities of our faith to the minds of her children in a childlike, (though not childish), way. There is a small poem and a picture at the end of each story. Your children will be straining their necks to see the sweet pictures! Through these small stories, parents will sow seeds of our Holy Catholic Faith that will enrich their families all the years to come!

This revised 1922 classic offers gentle guidance for preteen and teenage girls on how to become a godly woman. Full of charm and sentiment, it will help mother and daughter establish a comfortable rapport for discussions about building character, friendships, obedience, high ideals, a cheerful spirit, modest dress, a pure heart, and a consecrated life.

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