A St. Hildegard Lullaby Playlist

Hildegard Playlist.jpg

After mentioning online that the music of St. Hildegard is one of my favorite options for our children’s bedtime listening, it occurred to me that some may not be acquainted with this powerhouse Saint, much less her contributions to the canon of western music. In an attempt to remedy this travesty in my own little way, I thought I would share a little bit about her and offer a short playlist our favorite St. Hildegard “lullabies” to make her works more approachable.


In September of 2011, on the Feast of St. Hildegard, I was received into the Catholic Church. This was a month before Pope Benedict XVI was set to declare her a Doctor of the Church. I had become familiar with St. Hildegard through her in college a few years previously while studying music history and sacred music literature so it was divine providence when her feast was chosen by our priest for my reception.


St. Hildegard von Bingen was a german abbess, visionary, poet, musician, and naturalist during the 1100s. Both a prolific writer and composer, she also provides us with one of the largest bodies of surviving medieval music today. Of great note is her liturgical drama, Ordo Virtutum. With its 82 different melodies, Ordo Virtutum considerably expanded the original one piece liturgical dramas of the earlier century. The narrative, also written by St. Hildegard, follows a soul on its journey towards heaven as it wrestles with the personified vices and virtues. Possibly the first recognized morality play, it is a forerunner of the musical genres of modern opera and oratorio. Ordo Virtutum was part of St. Hildegard’s collection of music called Symphonia Armonie Celestium Revelationum that also contained an extensive compilation of 77 antiphons, hymns, Mass propers, responses, and sequences for the whole of the liturgical year. The following playlist is made up of pieces from Ordo Virtutum as well as the other portion of Symphonia Armonie Celestium Revelationum.




P.S. If you are looking for a fun way to introduce the life of St. Hildegard, this picture book is a great place to start.


An Invitation for Homeschool Moms with Littles…



In the middle of March I had the privilege of attending the Great Homeschool Conference in Fort Worth. It was my second time participating in the festivities, but the first time bringing one of my babies, our 7 month old son, with me. I purposefully planned to hear less speakers than the previous year, and got to volunteer at the Homeschool Help Desk booth and field questions from fellow parents. (It was lovely meeting you all!) While there, though, I can’t tell you how many times I was asked about homeschooling with a baby in the mix. And this is when it dawned on me: us homeschooling moms also raising rambunctious pre-school aged children need a special kind of support. 

Last year, before my youngest was born in August, I did a short series (free Ecourse) on babyproofing your homeschool before the arrival of a new baby. We hit my major areas of prepping and then move on to other things once Joe Joe was born. Many of these ideas were applicable far beyond the newborn days, and since then I have been adding, learning, and tweaking as we’ve gone along this school year.

But, I realized for most of us this was not enough! We need encouragement and support from our fellow moms also living in this joyfully chaotic season. We need the wisdom of our collective experience. So, if your homeschooling reality is a new baby on the way, or wrangling an infant or toddler while trying to read aloud and help your son with his times tables, then I heartily invite you to join us at the new Babyproof Your Homeschool private Facebook group. Here you will find encouragement, fellowship, a safe place to ask questions and troubleshoot issues, and the invaluable resource of the other mom members battling alongside you in the same trench of homeschooling with littles.

To kick off the group we will be starting a 6 Week Challenge next Monday (4/2) to help us all concur survival mode in our homeschools. For this video based challenge, each week will focus on a different topic facing homeschool moms that also have children ages birth 5-years and include practical, actionable steps we can implement immediately. Please join us and share the insights of your journey. We all have some knowledge worth passing on to our struggling sisters. If you know any other moms fighting the dragons of homeschooling with littles please share this post with them or the link to our group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/babyproofyourhomeschool/

I’ve already been asked about it so, for those moms not on Facebook, if you would like to participate in our 6 Week Challenge just sign up below and I will add you to the list for the email version.




In the Presence of the Lamb: A Musical Journey through Lent


Our world is full of distractions. We have responsibilities, obligations, and a bevy of other expectations constantly vying for our limited attention, energy, and time. But, as a gift to her children, the Church has generously given us a season each liturgical year to cut through these distractions with penance and reorder our hearts, minds, and priorities towards the heavenly voices from above instead of the wailings of world. Christ calls out to us, “Take up your cross and follow me,” and we are invited to travel with Him along the road to Calvary, to tithe a tenth of a year’s time; through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving; and unite our efforts, our little crosses, with His. As a language of God, I firmly believe that music can help us in these endeavors.

Beginning Ash Wednesday, I’ve been sharing my favorite music of Lent over on the facebook page. Each day I’m posting a short musical piece to help us drown out the noise of the world and focus on the sacrifice of Christ this season. Some readers here have mentioned that they are not on Facebook, so I have also created the following Lenten playlist and downloadable calendar so that all can join us for each day’s suggested listening.

Your family is free to play the day’s piece at any time, but here are a few ideas for inspiration:

  • During a meal
  • During Morning Time (“Morning Liturgy”)
  • During your daily commute
  • During your children’s play time
  • During bath time
  • During nap time
  • During afternoon tea
  • During your family’s bed time ritual

The possibilities are endless.

The daily selections are pulled from varying musical eras, medieval to modern, and include differing types of works from a wide range of composers and genres. Echoing the pattern presented in the Holy Triduum, on Thursdays the chosen piece will be in honor of the Eucharist in remembrance of its institution at the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday, while on Fridays our highlighted work will be an invitation to more deeply meditate on the temporal sufferings of Christ throughout the events of His Passion. In concurrence with their usual dedication, on Saturdays we will turn to Our Lady and in doing so our designated listening will be an opportunity to ponder her grief at the foot of the cross.

To participate in this devotion, you can click on the provided links to be taken to a youtube recording for each day’s listening selection, download the digital calendar with links to reuse year after year, or use the Spotify playlist for free listening anytime. I pray this devotion is a blessing to your family this Lent!

What music do you love to listen to during Lent? I’d love to read about it in the comments!


Ash Wednesday Week

Miserere Mei, Deus by Gregorio Allegri

“O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” from St. Matthew’s Passion by J. S. Bach

“God So Loved the World” from The Crucifixion by John Stainer

“Stabat Mater Dolorosa” from Stabat Mater by Domenico Scarlatti

Week 1

Angelis Suisby Johann Joseph Fux

Remember Not Lord our Offences by Henry Purcell

“O Vos Omnes” from the Tenebrae Responsories by Tomás Luis de Victoria

“Troisième Leçon De Ténèbres À 2 Voix” from The Leçons de Ténèbres pour le Mercredi Saint by François Couperin

Ave Verum Corpusby Francis Poulenc

Agnus Deiby Samuel Barber

Lament of the Mother of Godby John Tavener

Week 2

“Ne Irascaris Domine” from Ne Irascaris Domine by William Byrd

God Be in My Head by John Rutter

“Kyrie” from Requiem in D minor by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“O Lamm Gottes, Unschuldig” from Orgelbüchlein by J. S. Bach

Nos Autem Gloriariby Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Crux Fidelisby King John IV of Portugal

Drop, Drop Slow Tearsby Orlando Gibbons

Week 3

Jesus Christ the Apple Treeby Elizabeth Poston

Lamentations of Jeremiah 1by Thomas Tallis

Lamentations of Jeremiah 2by Thomas Tallis

Wash Me Throughlyby G. F. Handel

Pange Lingua Gloriosiby St. Thomas Aquinas & Anonymous

Christus Factus Est No. 3 by Anton Bruckner 

“O Quam Tristis” Stabat Mater by Alessandro Scarlatti

Laetare Week

Rejoice in the Lord Alwayby Henry Purcell

Sicut Cervusby Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Media Vita in Morte Sumus by Henri du Mont

Salvator Mundi by John Blow

O Sacrum Conviviumby Olivier Messiaen

“Crucifixus” from Mass in B minor by J. S. Bach

Ave Regina Caelorumby Michael Haydn

Week 5

“Vater, Vergib Ihnen” from The Seven Last Words of Christ by Joseph Haydn

Ubi Caritas Et Amorby Maurice Duruflé 

“Surely He Hath Borne our Griefs” from Messiah by G. F. Handel

Vide Homo, Quae Pro Te Patiorby Orlando di Lassus

O Salutaris Hostiaby Giaochino Rossini

“The Crown of Roses” from Sixteen Songs for Children by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Stabat Mater by Antonio Lucio Vivaldi

Holy Week

Hosanna to the Son of Davidby Orlando Gibbons

Repentir (O Divine Redeemer)by Charles Gounod

Improperia (The Reproaches) by Tomás Luis de Victoria

If Ye Love Me by Thomas Tallis

Ave Verum Corpus by William Byrd

“Vidit Suum Dulcem Natum” from Stabat Mater by Giovanni Pergolesi

“Quando Corpus Morietur” from Stabat Mater by Antonín Dvořák

Sign- up here to receive your downloadable Lenten calendar!

{Singing with the Saints} January Hymn Study: “At The Name Of Jesus”

Thanks to my mother, hymns have always been a part of my life and I am so grateful for the insights and comfort they have given me. It was laid on my heart to help other families share this same gift with their children. So, for Advent, I began a video hymn study program, over on Facebook, for families that would like to incorporate hymns into the liturgy of their lives, but may have felt overwhelmed or lacking in musical experience. This was the easiest way I could come up with to enable families in this regard, but I welcome any suggestion you may have! These videos are short and to learn with us you just have to sing along with me while you read the words on the provided text sheet. *** No music reading is required *** Each week’s verse is sung a cappella so there is no accompanying music to throw off or confuse little ears. If you have a favorite hymn you would like me to cover, please leave the title in the comments below so I can work it into the schedule.

I’m a firm believer in the attribution to St. Augustine that says, “He who sings prays twice.” So if hymns are a tradition of our rich Catholic faith that you would like to make a bigger part of your family’s culture and catechesis, I’d love for you to join us! You can find all the videos here. Be sure to like the page as well to make sure you don’t miss any of the new videos each week. All the monthly hymns will either have a connection to a major feast or the devotion of that month to give you a simple way to also live liturgically through music. Also please share these hymn posts so other families and friends may be blessed by them. If you are on Instagram, I’d love to see how you use this study, I’ll be able to see your photos when you use #SingingwiththeSaints.

For our January Hymn study we are focusing on this month’s devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus and taking a closer look at Caroline Noel’s hymn, “At The Name of Jesus.” This text has been used with several tunes, but we will be learning the Ralph Vaughn Williams setting this time.

Below you can find the printable text page for your family hymnal as well as the solfege sheet I will be explaining in a video later today. The solfege portion of the study is optional but hymns offer an easy opportunity to reinforce the faith while tying in a worthy new skill.

Just click on the pictures to download.




A Song for St. Lucia Day

Before all the hygge hype of recent years, the children of Sweden have traditionally risen early in the darkness to greet their sleeping parents with song, fresh coffee, and other treats for the feast of St. Lucia (Lucy). The oldest daughter of the house is named the Lucia Bride, and leads the procession clothed in a white gown and evergreen crown festooned with blazing taper candles to light their path. If breakfast in bed with a serenade is not a glowing example of hygge-style coziness, I don’t know what is!

This vignette has yet to take place exactly like that in our home, but I look forward to the day. Having five sons – up until last year when our daughter was born – I have always been our family’s Lucia Bride singing the morning into our home while our Chaps eagerly play the rambunctious Star Boy attendants. Going back to the first year when my husband jokingly asked if we could have a special devotion to St. Lucia and reenact these festivities everyday, Luciadagen is one of the small acts of service for my family that is always appreciated. If you have been wanting to incorporate this celebration into your litany of liturgical living you still have time to do so this year and I’m here with a little musical help to get you started.


our little Lucia Bride


Several years ago, a friend asked me to find a recording with the sung English translation of the traditional song used for Luciadagen in Sweden in hopes that her daughter might learn it for the upcoming feast. After a few days, my search for “Sankta Lucia” yielded several renditions of the Italian crooner version of the song, but only the printed English text. So, I made a her family a low quality recording on my phone with which to sing along. I have now recorded this folk song again and am sharing it with you for any other little Lucia Brides looking for their anthem. I have included this downloadable, educational quality recording below along with a printable text page for your family hymnal. For clarity sake, I chose to keep the Swedish word, Sankta, for saint, since that was the original language of the text, but the more common pronunciation of Lucia with the “ch” sound for “c”. Santa could also be used as well as the Swedish pronunciation of Lucia where the “c” is said as “s”, like in Lucy.



(just click on the photo to download)

P.S. This is a video of a Luciadagen procession in Sweden. I’m working on learning the harmony for those families feeling especially Von Trapp-ish… 

Indulgences and the Domestic Monastery


When I asked my dear, dear, friend, Dr. Mary C. Moorman, if she would be willing to enlighten us on Indulgences and their applications in the family she graciously agreed – despite her busy schedule. With her doctoral work on Indulgences Mary is an expert on the subject, and this summer her first book, Indulgences: Luther, Catholicism, and the Imputation of Merit was published by Emmaus Academic. This scholarly work, replete with research from her time spent in the Vatican Secret Archives, explores the role of Indulgences in the history of the Church and their continued relevance for Christians today. It is my pleasure to share her wisdom with y’all today!




If you all will take a moment and make the sign of the Cross + with the intention of obtaining an indulgence, you’ve done it. We did not have to fast for a week or undertake a long pilgrimage to obtain that indulgence. By the way, indulgences also attach to any moment of mental prayer, any reading of Scripture, and conversation which communicates the Catholic Faith.

What is an indulgence? An indulgence is “a remission before God of the temporal punishment due for sins of which guilt has already been forgiven… which the faithful Christian gains through the action of the Church.” When I explain this definition to my seven year old daughter, to whom my book is dedicated, I put it this way: an indulgence is an act which honors God, which we offer to redeem our time and buy it back after we have sinned. That is basically what an indulgence is. In response to out act of faith, God covers us and the penalty that is due for our sin with His righteousness when we have none of our own to offer. In indulgences Jesus imputes His righteousness to us. 

In Wittenburg, exactly 500 years ago, Luther proposed that indulgences are “pious frauds” which the Church proposes to her faithful, in grandiose presumption of falsely assumed authority. And ever since, and as of now, what has followed has been five hundred years of the most grievous kind of schism. What was so significant about these indulgences that was able to ignite such controversy? What was it that set this conversation apart from the dozens of other medieval reform movements which had characterized the Europe of Martin Luther’s time, so as to result in nation rising against nation, and the foundation of protestantism in its entirety? Could it be that this arcane and slightly embarrassing practice of the Catholic Church points beyond itself to something that goes to the very hear of the Church’s identity and vocation? Could it be that indulgences call us to be who in Christ we truly are?

As we all know, the Catholic Church calmly continued and even increased her promulgation of indulgences following Martin Luther’s controversy. The doctrine and practice were robustly addressed and reformed in the Tridentine counsels. The pious work and mission of the Catholic Counter Reformation made many saints, and ran on the indulgenced acts of their preaching, their explication of doctrine, and their simple prayers for the restored unity of the Church and the conversion of sinners. The Church continued to build the religious and civil structures of Europe and the new world on the indulged acts of her members. In the past century alone, historians such as Nikolaus Paulus, Henry Leah, Bernard Pochsmann, and Robert Shaffern have recorded a rich history of the roads, bridges, hospitals, and societies for civic service throughout modern Europe which were all inspired by the opportunity to appropriate indulgences through charitable work. In 1968, the Church’s updated Enchiridion on Indulgences issued forth from the conversations of the Second Vatican Council, and is available like a menu of options for obtaining indulgences, for your quick and easy consideration online. It is an amazing resource.

Today, the frayed indulgence grants of the past centuries (which you can see in the Vatican Secret Archives) had, since the sixteen century all tended to conclude with this uniform injunction: the acts enjoined by any indulgence are ultimately intended to support: 1) the prayers of the faithful, 2) the eradication of heresy, and 3) the exaltation of holy mother Church. And the Church’s apostolic penitentiary has expected that the appropriation of indulgences to do just that. Thus the Vatican has made over thirty decrees on indulgences which pertained throughout the universal Church in the past seventeen years. In short, we are five hundred years past the Protestant movement’s version of indulgences, and yet, everyone is still doing them :). The Church is unapologetically still offering them, because they have something crucial to tell us about who we are in Jesus. 

So yes, indulgences so seem to still be timely and relevant for us today. Now more than ever, we live in a time when we are very aware if our sins. Our culture offers the most grievous temptations rapidly, and social media and technology broadcast our pride and our scandals to one another in a moment’s notice. It has become very, very easy and acceptable to spend our time sinning. And in response, indulgences, as a counter measure, are also more readily available and easy to obtain than ever before. The Church’s steady call to the religious life and the priesthood has been increasingly enhanced with more and more indulgences; when I considered the religious life, I was struck by how every moment of every day is lived in the life of eternity, literally and practically enacting the transformation of mundane time into Heavenly time. Not surprisingly, pretty much everything done in the course of the day in a religious community carries an indulgence. At the same time, the Church’s increasingly urgent call for deliberate holiness within marriage and the family is also enhanced by the opportunity to obtain indulgences. Did you know that in the rather mundane life of a stay at home mom there are literally dozens of opportunities to obtain indulgences for one’s self and for the souls in Purgatory? In every moment of mental prayer – whether it be over household appliance or over the salvation of one’s neighbors – in every sign of the cross before meals, in every opportunity to impart the faith to our children, we can spent our time in exchange for nearness to Heaven, of ourselves, for souls in Purgatory, and for the whole world. Indulgences lay open a wide mission field for ministry that is suddenly as available and accessible to the mother at her kitchen sink as it is to the religious missionary and the clergy.

In light of these opportunities, more fundamentally what do indulgences have to say about us – and our Lord – today?

First, at the most basic level, indulgences say the same thing that they have said all along. And remind us that what we do with our time before our death really, really, matters. Our lives do not stand still; how we spend our time either propels us closer our Lord in Heaven, or positions us for further preparation, according to His merciful will, in Purgatory. Our time matters, and it is redeemable, it can be bought back, as St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5: “redeem the time, because the days are evil.” In indulgences we buy back the time we have spent in sin.

And in this way, the offer of indulgences dignifies us as active participants in our own restoration, as we are invited to deliberately re-create ourselves rather than just passively undergoing the suffering which inevitably follows from our sins. Indulgences dignify us. They even dignify our spiritual poverty and our needs, since indulgences attach to our every prayer for mercy and forgiveness and for any kind of divine help.

Furthermore, the acts of devotion to which indulgences attach – serving the needy, mental prayer, Scripture reading – recall us to the perfect rest that is possible in God, because indulgenced acts are works which are done for their own sake. They may have no other utility or usefulness other than the celebration of our union with our Savior. And indulgences underscore the truth that that union is enough. Like the penitent who broke her alabaster box to anoint Jesus’s feet, in indulgences we recall that there are some things which are worth doing for their own sake, even though they may “waste our time” in the world’s eyes. We do these things on the model of our Savior, who spent Himself on us.

Jesus spent Himself to purchase us. And this is the second aspect of what indulgences say to us in our time. Because Jesus entered into a transaction – a purchase – for our sake at Calvary, in Him we transact with God too. We in the Church are those people who have made a binding covenant with God; particularly in indulgences we offer one thing to Him in exchange for another. Indulgences are not sacraments; in themselves, they do not heal us ontologically from within; they are instances of mere exchange with God. And this is perhaps the greatest scandal the indulgences have presented to the watching world, and perhaps it is the greatest surprise as well: it is her sinful penitents that the Church sends to enact the covenant with God in the form of reparative indulgences. We are confronted with the fact that we fundamentally believe that we are unworthy to enter into covenant with God. But in His mercy, this honorable transaction is given for sinners. Here we hear Jesus saying to us, in our sins and our debts, “NO really, You are the ones I came for.” And in sending her penitents to make contracts with God, the post- 16th century church reminds the contemporary world that, just as St. Augustine put it against schismatic heresies in ancient times, in every age the true Church is the one that is seen to be a hospital for sinners… not necessarily a society for saints.

Thirdly, the role which indulgences play in the identity of the Church is this point which I consider to be the most significant thing that indulgences underscore for us today, in our post 16th century, schismatic world, in our age of sinners. In the medieval period, the preachers referred to the nuptial relationship between Christ and the Church to justify and explain the Church’s teachings on indulgences. In our day, a Church teaching like this one still requires and provokes something like what the prophet uttered millennia ago: “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be still… until her vindication shines forth like dawning, and her victory like the day of the Lord… (for) nations shall behold your glory… (for) as a young man marries a virgin, do shall your Lord marry you… as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so shall I YOUR Lord rejoice over you (Isaiah 62).”

In my work on Indulgences, I highlighted the fact that they have offered us the opportunity to enter into covenant with God. They are tokens of the value of our time and the dignity of our work in restoring that time. But these aspects ultimately point beyond themselves to the vindication of the corporate Church as the covenant Bride of Christ. In our time indulgences tell us something audacious and radicle about who the Church is, and who we are within her. She is not a fractured community in diaspora, loosely held together by the emerging consensus of her members. She is most certainly not the whore of Babylon who defies the Gospel. Rather, the Church’s daring offer of indulgences to us forces us to grapple with her more fundamental claim that she is one with our Lord, here and now, because the Church has become one with His flesh, bone of His bone, bearing His name and wielding His authority – even that authority to remit the temporal punishment that is due for our sins. The Church has this status because Jesus’ covenant with her. Just like in any contract, He has offered Himself, she has accepted, and she indicates and ratifies her consent daily in the bodies and acts of her faithful. From this covenant flows an ontological union between Christ and His members in the Church, this is created and nourished by the sacraments. But the particular idea of covenant, in exchange of vows which began it all, which was enacted in Christ’s body at Calvary, is imitated particularly in indulgences where a divine offer of mercy is appropriated and accepted by the acts of faith which the Church prescribes. The Church can do something as daring as to propose and authorize indulgences because in her nuptials she has become one with her Lord: the two have become one flesh. The Church offers her indulgences to us, and it is Christ Himself who grants them.

In our time, this is the radical claim which the entirety of the Christian tradition authorizes: the Church is the Bride of Christ.   

Planning Your Liturgical Year



So you’re interested in living liturgically…


Welcome, Friend!!



Go grab yourself a cuppa and cozy up in your comfiest chair because this topic is one of my favorite things.

Oh, you’re back? Splendid!

November is when I typically sit down and do an overview of the next liturgical year. The moveable feasts get added to my google calendar, that year’s Advent and Christmas plans are finalized, and then a few new ideas get added to my Holy Days Binder ( more on this to come in another post ). This is just a brief session as I’ve been slowly adding to our festal repertoire over the years. This quick look with everything gathered together really helps with spontaneity during busy weeks. On Sundays when I plan the next week and its upcoming feasts, I can just pull a couple things from my lists and be done with no stress. Since it’s that time of year, I thought it might help others to share how the liturgical celebrations of our family have been shaped and the methods I use to incorporate liturgically living into our home.

If you are just becoming acquainted with the Church calendar and the home commemoration of feasts and saints, below are a few ides for how your family can get started before the commencement of the new Church year. Yes, you still have time!


Many, many years ago…

For our family, liturgical living started while I was still in college and learning about the Catholic faith. My future husband and I would observe the major seasonal feasts and fasts of the year with Mass and related meals. Think simple things like meatless Fridays and Holy Week services. After our wedding and the added convenience of being married, we began to mindfully live out the Church calendar with a more earnest effort.

One day while browsing the little Catholic bookstore on the outskirts of my college campus, I picked up a thin (now out of print) booklet called Customs & Traditions of the Catholic Family. Put out by Family Life Bureau, and formerly entitled Your Home, A Church in Miniature, this fascinating read on the Church’s rich saint day traditions became my light reading while on the train to and fro classes. This welcome escape from the hectic demands of my last semester was a calming balm of peace for my frazzled soul. My rides were spent learning of regional customs like Luciadagen and dreaming of our own family’s festal celebrations once our first child arrived in a few short months.

Gradually we added some of these small saint celebrations to the liturgy of our life. I would keep a dry erase calendar updated with the month’s daily saints in the kitchen. With my class and work schedule and that of my new husband, supper with a couple hours in the evening was the only time we saw each other during the week. To use the most of this time, before we tucked into our nightly meal we would do our devotions, going over the saint of the day and asking for their intercession. If we were not familiar with the assigned saint we would read about them then. I began to make special meals in honor of our patrons and to form connections between the historical music I had been learning the past few years and the Saints and religious practices that inspired their composition.

Later, as our sons were named and baptized, the saints of those days were included in our family’s annual observances. Through the years others have joined our family calendar as the saints have found us or as members of our family have developed a special devotion to a specific saint. We have slowly grown the number of, tweaked, and even dropped some commemorations over the years. And, based on our season of life at the time, no two year’s celebrations have looked exactly the same. 

Our family did not begin all our feast day traditions at one time and if your family is new to this idea you don’t have to either. In fact, I would heartily advise to the contrary. 

I’ve heard repeatedly that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Then, being four weeks in length, Advent is the perfect time to begin practicing new family devotions. The fall school semester is winding down as the first Sunday in Advent starts the new Church year. The lead up to Christmas and the new calendar year provide down time for planning and easing into your family’s new chosen practices. But what feast day’s should your family make an effort to celebrate? How do you pick from the Church’s over 1000 canonized saints? In what ways can your family celebrate the chosen feasts? First of all pray, you may be surprised by which saints and feasts are laid on your heart.


Here are a few ways your family can choose to start:

Pick one suggestion and celebrate the next feast or season on the calendar.

  • If your family is not already, start living as a Sabbath people. Keep Sunday holy through Mass attendance and keeping rest a priority. You can also help bring back the communion of Sunday Suppers.

  • Institute the age-old, super simple practice of meatless Fridays or some other Friday penance to remember the crucifixion of Christ.

  • Commemorate Major Feasts and Fasts first – Advent, Epiphany, Lent, etc.

  • Choose feast days you family will recognize – Which saints are already familiar to them?

  • Incorporate days that are significant to your family – namedays, baptismal anniversaries, confirmation saints, and or patron saints.

  • Look at the feast days for the month, liturgical season, or the monthly dedication for a more comprehensive view, pick one a week or month to observe – This look ahead at the beginning will allow more time for budgeting and preparation.

  • Glean ideas by flipping through another one of my favorite liturgical living books, Joanna Bogle’s A Book of Feasts & Seasons, or another book on the subject. I will compile a list of some other lovely ones in a post soon.

Once you have narrowed down a couple feasts to commemorate, decide how involved each particular celebration will be. For our family, the major church feasts like Christmas and Easter are much more elaborate than say the feast of St. James, a nameday in our home. The make-up and focus of your own family will shape this decision. For example, the slaying of a loaf of dragon bread on the feast of St George may not be as big of a deal for a family of multiple daughters as it is for our rascal of boys. Theses remembrances are an opportunity for a creative outlet, but they do NOT need to be complicated to be educational and have a spiritual impact on your family.


These are the types of activities that we regularly pull from to celebrate a feast:

If you are new to this practice remember, there is no need to try and do them all for every feast. One or two each observance is plenty to create a meaningful, lasting memory that will help your family grow in the Catholic faith.


Art –

Through the ages Master Artists have looked to religious events as subjects for their works. These masterpieces in various mediums can be found through simple on like search phases like, “Visitation fine art” or “Crucifixion paintings.” Many of these images are in the public domain and may be printed for your family’s picture study use. Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Teresa and Michelangelo’s Pietà are a couple statues we revisit through photographs each year. Giotto also has some beautiful frescos fit for Holy week.

Books –

Doing an internet search for “books for the feast of ______” will bring up several available suggestions for both children’s picture books and longer chapter books suitable for the whole family. This is also and opportunity to to learn more about the dedication of a specific month. You can start a monthly book basket with related picture book titles and or choose a chapter book for your family read aloud. St. Athanasius’ On The Incarnation is a versatile title that could be used in March for the feast of the Annunciation, or in December as a part of devotions around the Advent wreath.

Crafts –

My sons are not big on crafts and glitter, but if your children are, Pinterest has a plethora of ideas that can be organized into monthly or seasonal boards. You can check out mine here. I prefer to have the tangible projects at my finger tips, so I usually go ahead and print the very few things we will be using and place them in my Holy Days binder. Like Pinterest, Catholic Icing is also searchable has many traditional craft ideas by saint and season as well. My second son (6 years old) is especially fond of the free coloring pages from Paper Dali.

Food –

This category seems to be the most popular for families to implement. We tend to include a food related to the day’s feast because on hectic days everyone still must to eat. In addition to those mentioned above, there are a few ways we go about making liturgical connections through food including, serving the cuisine of a saint’s native land, mission field, or a place that holds them as patron. Some saints shared their favorite food, for example, St. Therese is said to have loved eclairs. Other feasts, namely the Transfiguration (grapes) and Fig Monday during Holy Week, have foods that were customarily associated with them. Several dishes have also derived their names from a religious context. For instance, angel and devil’s food cake, or the scrumptious, savory-sweet hors d’oeuvre of bacon wrapped dates stuffed with goat cheese and pecans called Devils on Horseback. Finally, other connections can be made between meals and what a saint did or the events of a particular feast. Two of our family’s most treasured traditions are stabbing our dragon bread on the feast of St. George and barbecuing for the feast of St. Laurence.

Home Decor –

Most of us are participating in the Church year through this category without even realizing it. The is especially true during the holiday season, when you gather your family around an Advent wreath, put up a Christmas tree in your home, or exchange Christmas gifts. A simple way we continue this practice throughout the year is by lighting candles at meals and switching between a small number of tablecloths that mirror the color of the liturgical season – purple for Advent and Lent, a blue and white pattern for May and Marian feasts, one with a bit of green for ordinary time, red for a martyr, etc. These have be acquired over the years from various sales. If you have a chalk or dry erase board, it can be used to display seasonal hymn lyrics or a quote by the saint of the day. Lighting a child’s baptismal candle at supper on that anniversary makes the day even more memorable.

Indulgences –

Thanks to a dear friend, indulgences are a practice that our family has recently added over the last couple of years. Many common prayers and pious acts have been given a partial indulgence, and several are connected to certain feast days. You can find ones for November in this All Souls Day post.  An extensive list can be found in The Enchiridion of Indulgences.

Media –

This category is where I lump all the audio and visual resources not related to music. We have come across several wholesome films based on different saint and feasts. The 1943 film The Song of Bernadette is a gem. A Man for All Seasons from the 1960’s, inspired by the English Reformation Saint Thomas More, is another worthy classic. My sons also enjoy the older, but still lovely, animated religious DVD’s put out by CCC of America. The Odyssey and St. Nicholas are the two they request most often. I have heard a lot of good things about the Glory Stories CD’s by Holy Heroes but have yet to make that investment.

Music –

If you have visited this little corner to the “interwebs” before, you probably know how significant music is to me and therefore our family culture. Due to my childhood and educational background, this is the area in which I am most familiar. When planning the musical aspect of a feast day I look for ways to connections through four genres: Hymns, Children’s Bible Songs, Chant, and Classical works. I select a piece for that day’s Concert Hour or Dinner Music that was written either by or about the saint, generally about their character, or about the events of the day itself. My prayer is that this blog is a resource to you in this department. If you are looking for an easy way to add music to your liturgical practices this year, please take a look at my musical Advent devotion, Awaiting the Messiah: An Family Advent Journey with Handel’s Messiah.

Outings –

It is so much fun to come with the ideas for this category! Some things that we try to do, deranged Texas weather permitting, is to visit the zoo near the feast of St. Francis and have a picnic at the grave of our fourth son on All Souls Day. Bowling for the feast of St. Therese has also been a hit in our home. Why not plan a camping trip and hike in honor of the great outdoorsmen St. John Paul the Great or Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati? I also include the less exciting activities like dropping off clothing donations for St. Martin and St. Vincent de Paul Day and making it to confession on the feast of St. Padre Pio in this section.

Prayers –

This can be as simple as adding, “St. ______, pray for us!” to the end of your blessing before a meal. Many saints have also composed prayers that can be found with a quick online search, while other feasts have related prayers, like All Saints’ and the Litany of the Saints. We like to have a litany for each month that corresponds to the monthly dedication. These are a big hit for our non-readers because they can still follow along and know what to say. Novenas are another option to incorporate prayer to match the rhythm of the liturgical year. The Pentecost novena, dating back to the Ascension of our Lord, is one not to be missed. Of course, many of the saints pinned prayers and those are easily found by internet search. St. Bernard and St. Francis are two off the top of my head.

Readings –

Read a summary of the saint’s life and historical setting at a meal. Most of these can be found online for free. Saint of the day (modern calendar) and Per Ipsum (traditional calendar) will send you an daily email of the commemorated saint. The daily office is wonderful resource in this regard and many writings by individual saints can be found online in the public domain as well. Additionally, the daily Bible readings will match up to major feast and can be found on websites like The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.


If you are a long-time observer of the liturgical year, I hope our family’s practices have given you some new ideas to include this year.

Whether this is your first year following the feasts of the Church or to your twentieth, may God bless your endeavors as you strive to bring your family closer to Him through the liturgies of your everyday life.


How do you go about planning the festivities of the liturgical year in your home? I’d love to hear about your particular method in the comments!