Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Katie Reads {10} Ideas for Lent and Holy Week

Where did Lent go?  On one hand, this might have felt like the longest couple of months ever, but on the other, I'm not sure where all of the time I had set aside for my Lenten resolutions has gone.  We find ourselves nearing Palm Sunday, and fortunately for those of us who feel like our Lent slipped away, the Church has a built in retreat coming up in the form of Holy Week.

Holy Week gifts us the opportunity to enter into the most beautiful and profound liturgies, and also naturally sets us up with a little more silence and contemplation.  I know that my schedule looks different, and one of the things I hope to do is to spend some time reading good, formative books.  I thought you might be considering the same thing, so I've pulled together some books that will be great for the remainder of Lent, Holy Week, and take you into the rest of the Church year.  They are divided into a few categories and I've got books for both kids and adults.  If you order them now, you'll have them in time for the Triduum!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
***Pauline Books & Media provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
###Author provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I only recommend things I use and love and want to share with you.  All opinions are my own. :)

The Stations of the Cross

Praying the Stations is one of my very favorite parts of Lent, and I love that we are offered such variety in the types of reflections we can pray as we follow the Way of the Cross.

Contemplating the Face of Christ, A Way of the Cross, by Fr. Marko Ivan Rupinik, SJ ***

  • Gorgeous, glossy full color photos of mosaics created by the author feature striking close ups of the face of Christ during His Passion. The images are shared alongside Scripture, ancient Christian writings, reflections, prayers, and hymns.  
  • This book would be a wonderful tool for personal prayer during Lent, especially in times that you cannot be in a church or chapel to have the visual of the Stations of the Cross around you.  The photos in this book each lend themselves to meditation on the emotion of Christ and His followers during His last hours. 

The Stations of the Cross for Children, by Jerry Windley-Daoust, illustrations by Vicki Shuck ###

  • This brand new book would be a perfect companion for children, especially little ones, during Holy Week.  Each Station shares a full page illustration, and a very short set of readings and prayers (each only a sentence or two) helping little ears listen and giving quiet time for reflection. 
  • The Stations contained in the book are from the "New Way of the Cross," which includes slightly different events from the traditional Stations, including the Last Supper, The Good Thief, Mary and John at the Foot of the Cross, etc.  I love that the book helps tie those important stories into the Passion of Jesus and the collective memory of the children who will pray with it, but it would be good to note that it would change the way you would use the book if praying with the physical Stations in a Church.
  • The illustrations by Vicki Shuck are beautiful.  Detailed and vibrant, they convey the emotions and sacrifice without being gory or scary.  There is a warmth in the images that makes these the best illustrations I've seen in any children's Way of the Cross I've used.  (They also have the illustrations available as posters!)
  • The book also contains a list of ideas for ways to use it, especially with young children, and they offer a companion journal as well.  You can preview all of the resources and purchase either physical copies or digital versions (perfect to have everything ready for Holy Week!) at Gracewatch Media.
  • "Jesus, we want to be with you, too, both now and in heaven, along with our family and friends.  Help us to be like the Good Thief.  Help us say sorry for our sins, and turn back to you."

The Way of the Cross, by Archbishop Fulton Sheen

  • This little book has made my Lent.  For years, I've reread Sheen's The Life of Christ during Lent and Holy Week, but this year... I haven't.  I've supplemented with some other things, but this little Way of the Cross booklet has been a powerful addition to my prayer.
  • You can read most of the text here, but I decided to finally order the booklet so it was a bit easier to carry around and pray with.  Originally written by Sheen in 1932, long before his TV Show or ordination as a Bishop, I think that it contains some of his most beautiful and profound words.
  • "Oh Lord, the day I was born anew of water and the Holy Spirit, the image of your Cross was engraved upon my heart. Today you ask me: 'Whose inscription is written thereon?' If it be yours, then let me render to God the things that are God's. Grant that, like Veronica, I may brave all human respect to carry your image about with me, not on a veil but on the tablet of my heart. Bestow on me the grace to be so much like you that others among whom I live may see something of you in me, as the maidservant saw something of you in Peter. If they do not see in me that marks of your passion, let them at least see the sparks of your love."
  • Thanks to a Hobo for Christ Podcast Saints Stories for Kids, my students have been fascinated with St. Longinus.  Tradition says that he is the soldier that pierced Christ's side, but his story doesn't end there.
  • This black and white booklet shares the Stations of the Cross, but told from the perspective of St. Longinus as he participated in Christ's Crucifixion.  It is a unique point of view, but the more you read and pray, the more you see that it could be you that is telling the story, you the one that led Christ to His Death. 
  • The reflections in this booklet are a bit longer, so it would work really well for personal reading and contemplation as well as group prayer.  I liked how peppered throughout the fictional reflection of Longinus are lots of Scriptural quotes and their references, giving you even more to read and think about.
  • "I stood at the tomb beside the Mother of Jesus.  Never taking her eyes off the tomb, she reached for my hand and simply said: 'Love is stronger than death.'"
Time with Jesus

  • This sweet but solid book about Christ is a perfect companion to Our Blessed Mother, reviewed in my last Katie Reads post. Jesus our Savior is beautifully illustrated and filled with the story of Christ's life, from the Annunciation to Pentecost.  Organized in chapters and almost sixty pages long, this brand new book fills a need for easy chapter books about the faith designed for older elementary students.  
  • As I described in my last post, many picture books are written at a lower level and have smaller snippets of information.  I love that this book has more substantial information while still being illustrated and attainable.  The short chapters and frequent illustrations are joined with detailed stories and longer chunks of text.  I think this series would be perfect for 3rd-5th graders and am glad to add it to my classroom library.
Divine Mercy in My Pocket, by Marianne Lorraine Trouve, FSP ***
  • This cute little companion book is a perfect to give kids this Lent or Easter.  With info about Jesus, the Image of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina, Divine Mercy Sunday, and how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, I think that this little book would be great for students preparing for Confession (their first or any time) or during the quiet prayer time of the Triduum.
  • It would also be a perfect inexpensive addition to an Easter basket to help prepare kiddos for Divine Mercy Sunday!

Time with the Saints

Saints by Our Side: Thomas Aquinas, by Marianne Lorraine Trouve, FSP ***
Saints by Our Side: John of the Cross,  by Fr. George P. Evans***
  • During these last days of Lent (or throughout the Easter Season), we have a perfect time to get to know a new-to-you heavenly friend and learn from their examples.
  • This Saints by Our Side Series is intended to help bring the stories of Saints- their lives, teachings, and impact on the world- in a short and attainable text that is still packed with content.  I love the length of these books (just a little over 100 pages) which makes them easy to pick up and get to know a new Saint.  Each book shares a thorough biography, a chronology, an original prayer, and reflection questions, and detailed bibliography. Neither Thomas Aquinas or John of the Cross are Saints that I previously knew a lot about, so these books were a great introduction.  I'm excited to see how this collection from Pauline Books and Media grows!

Ex Libris: Fulton Sheen, by Alexis Walkenstein ***
  • I (not surprisingly) was super excited for this book to arrive in my mailbox.  Sheen and I are BFFs, after all.  This author has pulled together some favorite, powerfully themed writings from several of Sheen's books and then organized them topically in this compact 120 page book.  
  • If you've never read Sheen, this would be a great place to start.  With the smaller chunks of writing, you can choose a topic (in any order) and read the 2-3 page chapter.  If you love it, the chapters are organized by themes, so you can read the section.  And if that really speaks to you, you can find the original sources of Sheen's writings and dive into one of his full length books.
  • If you have read Sheen, this little book is a nice companion.  Sometimes he packs so much content and thought into his text that a meaningful passage can get lost in a 400 page book.  Here, you won't miss the message and can reread as your heart desires.  I've been carrying this book around in my purse during Lent.  When I need to fill five minutes here and there I can pull it out have found it easy to pick up and put down while still gathering great spiritual fruit.

Mother Teresa: The Story of the Saint of Calcutta, by Marlyn Evangelina Monge, FSP ***
  • Part of the already mentioned series of picture books for older Catholic kids, beginning with Jesus and Mary, this biography of St. Teresa of Calcutta is just lovely.  Still organized by chapters but containing full page illustrations, this would be a great beginning biography book for 2nd or 3rd graders, or a perfect quick read for my 5th graders.  I love the photographic/sketch style of the illustrations which often are from a unique perspective point and really capture the emotion of Mother Teresa's prayer and work.  There are a few two page spreads with no text, moving the story along with pictures.  Little details like page borders that match the sisters' saris are thoughtful and eye catching. I'm grateful for the variety this book adds to my classroom Saint book collection.

  • Speaking of my classroom Saint book collection, the Encounter the Saints series will always be my favorite and most recommended Saint books for upper elementary kids.  The compact chapter books are novelized biographies, making it easy for kids to read and relate to the Saints.  Often including info about the Saints childhood also helps children imagine themselves follow in the Saints footsteps.
  • As much as I love the Sacred Heart, I didn't know much about St. Margaret Mary or her friend St. Claude de la Colombiere, so I thoroughly enjoyed reading this short story of their lives and the devotion that they shared with the Church.

Growth & Development

  • Habits shape us.  This book is a practical how to (and why to!) guide for anyone looking to make changes that matter and have deep, abiding impact in the Christian life.  I found the topics practical and relevant, but also appropriately challenging.  Fr. Landry's advice moves from basics to deeper spiritual practices.  We all have room to grow in virtue and root out vice, and this book is a perfect guide- almost like a spiritual director you can carry around with you. :)

  • Minimalism, decluttering, organizing, tiny houses, intentional buying... sound familiar?  It's currently trendy to get your life organized, but this author connects that trend with spiritual truth.  Speaking from personal experience (including struggles and triumphs) she shares tips and ideas for simplifying our physical surroundings while connecting them to our spiritual selves.  Part memoir, part how-to, and part theological reflection, this book reminds us that the body and soul are both good and cannot be separated.  Therefore how we create and fill our homes for the needs of our bodies is intertwined with the needs of our souls.  Whether you are a pack rat or a neat freak, everyone has something to learn from this book because it's about more than the state of your created stuff; its about your soul and its relationship with the Creator.

So what will you be reading during Holy Week?  Do you have any old favorites or new books waiting to walk with you during this holy season?

Monday, March 5, 2018

Celebrating St. Joseph {Feast Day Ideas}

March is dedicated to my dear St. Joseph, husband of Mary and guardian of our Redeemer.  St. Joseph important in the life of every believer, but as he is the patron Saint of my school, we try to make his feast day special.  I've got a collection of posts that share some of the ways we've celebrated in case you'd like to learn and pray with St. Joseph this month and especially on his feast day March 19th.   However, many of these ideas would be applicable with any Saint that you are trying to celebrate- especially a patron Saint of your parish, school, or home.

In the round up of ideas below, click on any title with a *** to take you to a more detailed post or printable.

Easy St. Joseph Shrines ***

Holy Family Coloring Page***

A few years ago while visiting the Philippines, Pope Francis wove his love for St. Joseph into an address on prayer and family.  Specifically, he spoke about a statue he has on his desk of the Sleeping St. Joseph.  From the Gospels, we know that St. Joseph listened to God in his dreams and then rose to act on His will.  Pope Francis shared with his audience that he asks St. Joseph to pray for his intentions by writing them down and slipping the paper under the statue of St. Joseph.

This sweet devotion has been spreading slowly across the world.  A dear friend was the first to introduce it to me, and I just love this new connection with one of my very favorite Saints.  How comforting to think of St. Joseph caring for the Church, for us and our concerns, while resting in God.  Go check out this post for all kinds of ideas and activities about the devotion to the Sleeping St. Joseph.

Here are a few Murals/Posters we've created to display on St. Joseph Day:
This one was made of wooden popsicle sticks representing Joseph's work as a carpenter.  Each student took one and wrote a title or role of St. Joseph and we assembled them into this mural.

St. Joseph's Day Bread:
Our school has a tradition that fresh bread is blessed on his feast day and passed out to everyone.  Each class shares a loaf while thanking St. Joseph for his provision and protection, and each student takes a small loaf home to share with their families.

I usually read this book called St. Joseph's Story from Word Among Us Press (affiliate link):
It has beautiful pictures:

Novenas are powerful- well, they are powerful if you are seeking God's will and are prepared for his answer.  You can read this post about the most obvious answer to a novena I have received, when I started praying this novena to St. Joseph the Worker, which resulted in my current job at St. Joseph School.  It was kind of crazy amazing at the time, and looking back, I can see God's hand in it even more clearly.

If you  would like to join in praying the St. Joseph novena leading up to his March 19th Solemnity, you could use this color-a-novena printable.  There's one lily to color in for each day you pray.  If you would like to finish the nine days on his actual feast, you should start on March 11th.  Or you can begin this novena any time and for any length to increase your devotion to St. Joseph and ask his powerful intercession.

St. Joseph also has a feast day on May 1st, celebrating his work and provision and protection for the Holy Family and for the Church.  This quote from St. John Paul II has long been one of my favorites, and I lettered it as a reminder to pray for the work of the leaders in our lives and homes.

"St. Joseph was a just man, a tireless worker, the upright guardian of those entrusted to his care.  May he always guard, protect, and enlighten families." ~St. John Paul II

St. Joseph Holy Saturday Coloring Page***
Click here for some resources for Holy Saturday and a couple of printables with a line about St. Joseph from a favorite poem:

St. Joseph Memorare Prayer Cards***
Similar in wording to the original Memorare, this one asks for the intercession of St. Joseph.

St. Joseph Traveling Shrine or Statue
One year we sent a small St. Joseph statue to visit each classroom in the school for a day in March leading up to St. Joseph's Feast.  It traveled with a couple of books and a prayer journal that each class wrote in.  The Shrine was then displayed in the school office for the rest of the month.

I hope you have a blessed March and St. Joseph Day!  I'd love to hear how you celebrate Saint's Feast Days with your groups of kiddos!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sweeter Than Honey Coloring Pages {March}

The big idea of our Sweeter than Honey CCD theme this year is to encourage the kids to know and memorize Scripture, specifically the Psalms, so that they know that God's promises are so sweet.

Each month, I'll share a set of coloring pages, one for each Sunday, featuring the Psalm from Sunday Mass.  Using special fonts and simple decorations, they are meant to be a quick addition to your weekly class as an aide to memorizing the Responsorial Psalm.  Add it to your opening and closing prayer, give the students a few minutes to color it during class, and send it home to be hung up on the fridge or bathroom mirror.

Here are the coloring pages for the four Sundays of March:

Click here for the full size Psalm coloring pages for March:

Click here for the half page size Psalm coloring pages for March:
(These fit perfectly inside the Scripture Book cover from this post)

I'll post coloring pages of the Psalms once a month, so stay tuned!  You can find the other resources at these links:

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Studying Scripure: Transfer & Tracing Techniques

In response to comments and questions on some of my Instagram posts of my Bible margin doodles, today I want to share with you a few tips and tricks for transferring designs, lettering, etc. into my Bible (or journal, etc.) because I am NOT freehanding my work from scratch.  What you see in my photos of my Bible or my Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles is often the fruit of a sketch, a rough draft, transferring, and then inking, etc.  It takes a little longer, but I am much happier with the results especially when working in something as important as my Bible.

(FYI- the links below are Amazon Affiliate links. That means that if you click through and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.)

I've been spending lots of time in my new Catholic Journaling Bible- reading and studying and being creative.  Check out the bottom of the post for links about how I use my current (non journaling) study Bible and how my favorite pens and art supplies hold up in the Catholic Journaling Bible.

For this post, I'd like to share a few techniques with you for taking an idea and transferring it into your Bible.  The same tips would work in a journal, etc.  First, you need to decide on the design you'd like to add to your Bible.  A few ideas:
-Create your own sketch of the verse/image.  I highly recommend graph paper- it makes it so easy to keep things straight/balanced/centered.  No matter the kind of paper, I always mark off the final size I am going for first (size of the Bible margin or journaling page) and then sketch.
-You also can find a font that you love and type the verse you want to journal.  Play with sizes, placement and even mix up two or more fonts.  Then print to your needed size!
-There are some Bible journaling templates out there that you can download and print yourself, already designed and ready to go. (Search on Pinterest for Bible Margin Templates- and I also offer them in my Etsy Shop!)
...Now, to get that design in your Bible or journal.

First here are some general supplies I love for working in my Bible:
-These colored pencils
-This pencil sharpener (sharpens both large and small colored pencils)
-These pencils (the only kind worth having!)
-These pens
-This amazing light box
-Graph paper like this
-Watercolors like this
-Gesso like this
-This little ruler
-This eraser
-Washi Tape like this
-Vellum like this or this or this

Once you have a design you love, you have a few options for transferring to your Bible page where you can then ink, color, paint, etc.

Carbon Transfer
-You can transfer your design using erasable carbon paper by layering pattern, carbon paper, and then your Bible/journal.  I would recommend using washi tape to hold it down while you are tracing.
-If you don't want to spring for carbon paper, shade in the back of your design with a layer of pencil (shown in photo below) and it will work just as well.
-Once it is positioned, trace over the lettering or design using a pencil or pen (using color helps you know what you have already traced!)
-It's a good idea to carefully check if you are applying enough pressure by lifting up and edge near where you have traced to make sure you see the outline.
-When finished, peel off the pattern and you have a faint pencil outline that you can ink, erase lines, and decorate!

Pencil on the back:

Ready to trace:

Very light pencil lines:

Traced over with ink:

-Another option is to trace your design by laying it under the page you'd like it on.  This works if the Bible or journal page is very thin (possible with the BIS Bible) and if your design is bold and dark.
-Lay your pattern under the page you want to trace it on.
-I still recommend using washi tape to hold it in place.
-Carefully trace, either in pencil first or directly in ink.
-Remove pattern, erase if needed, and decorate!

You can faintly see the pattern through the paper here:

Traced in ink:

Added some decorations:

Light Board
-You can up your tracing game with a light board.  I just got one for Christmas and I do no know how I've gotten through a whole life of drawing and crafting without it.  Seriously, if you ask what my favorite tool is for Bible Journaling, this is it.  

-The light board that I'm using is 9x12" and only about 1/4" thick, making it easy to lay flat on the table and work on and also simple to slide inbetween pages of a Bible or journal.  This one has a USB cord that can be plugged into a wall or into a computer for power, which is super helpful.  It also can be dimmed and brightened depending on the thickness of what you are working with.
-I usually will tape the pattern to the back of the Bible page, but won't also tape it to the light board.  That way if the light board moves (which it will) it won't rip your Bible page.

-Usually, I just place the light board in between the pages and get to work, but sometimes if the page I'm tracing on is near the front or the back of the Bible, I have propped up the other side of the light board with a book of similar height.  This make tracing easier as the board stays level and doesn't slide, and also makes it less likely to tear those delicate pages.
-I love that I can work with the light board to trace even the most detailed patterns and don't have pencil lines to erase afterwards, which is both messy and can cause you to damage the page or smear the ink, which is a tragedy.

There you have it!  A few tried and true transferring techniques.  Now off to make or find some awesome patterns and designs to use!

You can visit my Etsy shop to get both digital files to download and print yourself, ready to trace using any of these techniques.

Or, if you want something a little quicker, I also offer Bible margin doodles as preprinted stickers on matte white paper, ready to decorate and then just stick straight into your Bible.

I have ten sets of Bible Margin Doodles in the shop right now (50 different stickers).  And there are specific sets just for Lent and Easter, so if you are working on a goal to spend more time in Scripture during Lent, they'd be perfect!

And as a special thank you to my blog readers, for the rest of Lent, I'll send you a free Catholic Colorable Sticker set with any order.  Just mention in your order notes that you are a blog reader and which set you'd like! (Pictured are sets 1, 2 and 3 from left to right).

You might like these other posts:
Color & Creativity in the Catholic Journaling Bible
Pens for the Catholic Journaling Bible
Tips, Tools, and Ideas for Personal Bible Study
Adding Art to a Non-Journaling Bible
Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles 2015-2016
Sunday Readings Scripture Doodles 2016-2017
Why Your Handwriting Matters