Thursday, April 27, 2017

Katie Reads {6}

Time to chat about what I've been reading!  I've got a Saint themed stack for you today, with books for both kids and adults.  

(FYI- the links for the books 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 will gratefully use it, probably to stock up on more books! :)  )

Since I would rather be reading than writing long book reviews, I'll give you a grade and a quick run down- totally just my opinion based on what I enjoy.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on these books or suggestions of what I should read next in the comments! 
You can check out other book recommendations here: 
Katie Reads {1} 
Katie Reads {2}  
Katie Reads {3} 
Katie Reads {4}
Katie Reads {5}

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, A Personal Portrait, Fr. Leo Maasburg, {A}

  • Newly Canonized St. Teresa of Calcutta is our CCD Patron Saint this year, so this book was a natural choice to give to all of my volunteers this Christmas...and because of the timing I did something I rarely do- give away a book I haven't actually read myself.  I trusted the source and hoped it was good, and when I got around the reading it over spring break, I was not disappointed.
  • Fr. Maasburg spent many years as a personal companion of Mother Teresa, traveling with her, working as translator and organizer, and bringing the Sacraments to her sisters and those she served.  He provides a unique and personal look at the woman the whole world knows. 
  • This book doesn't provide the typical, dry, year-by-year kind of biography you might expect.  Instead, it chronicles the significant events of Mother Teresa's life by sharing specific stories and encounters as well as direct quotes and teachings from the Saint herself.  This intimate approach makes it a page turner, even for someone who might know a lot about the life of Mother Teresa.
  • This is an abridged translation, and there were a few times while reading that felt a little repetitive and/or a bit clumsy with its sequence.  I'm going to blame the shortened edition, because otherwise it was lovely.  (FYI- the Amazon link above is to the unabridged version)
  • Accessible for both Catholics and non-Catholics, I think that everyone needs to know more about the life of Mother Teresa and could do it through this book.  If you would like to order copies in bulk it is available through the Augustine Institute here
  • "This idea was central for Mother Teresa: that Jesus radiates from us, shines forth through us, without words."

The Legend of Saint Christopher, Quest for a King, Lee Hyoun-ju,{A}
Saint Clare of Assisi, Runaway Rich Girl, Kim Hee-ju, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of The Legend of Saint Christopher and Saint Clare of Assisi in exchange for an honest review.

  • Graphic novels are a hot classroom commodity right now, and for good reason.  Vivid illustrations combined with high impact text and dialogue create a page-turner that is perfect for matching reluctant readers with non-fiction text.  Pauline Books & Media recognized this need and has a whole new line of graphic novels about Saints, including St. Christopher, St. Clare, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Philip Neri, and more.  
  • I've had these in my classroom for about six weeks now, and they have been a huge hit.  So popular in fact, these books haven't even made it on the shelf in our Faith Corner yet- they literally are passed from one student to the next as they finish.  It is a perfect book to tuck in their desks and read a little at a time- the style of a graphic novel makes it easy to immerse themselves back into the story quickly.  
  • I was impressed by the depth that is covered about the lives of these Saints with books of 168 and 200 pages, respectively.  Besides just being a biography, these books are exposing my students to virtues, decision making, religious life, martyrdom, a good role models.   
  • Even though they each have an obvious male or female lead character, that isn't stopping boys and girls from both reading them.  Of their own accord, I think just as many of the boys in my room have read about St. Clare as St. Christopher.  The style, action, and pacing is attractive and keeps them reading.
  • These books have been a great addition for my classroom, and I will definitely be adding more to our collection.  I think that they would best fit 3rd-6th graders, but could also be a great help for older students when reading is not a strength.  Now, I just have to decide what story to order next.  Mother Teresa of Kolkata? St. Teresa of Avila?  I think I'll poll my students :).

Simon of Cyrene and the Legend of the Easter Egg, Terri DeGezelle, {A}
Pauline Books & Media provided me with a copy of Simon of Cyrene and the Legend of the Easter Egg in exchange for an honest review.

  • This sweet picture book was a perfect classroom read aloud during Holy Week.  While its main audience would probably be more 1st-3rd graders, my 5th grade students were all ears and enjoyed discussing the story of St. Simon of Cyrene.
  • We only know a little bit from Scripture about the man who helped carry Jesus' cross on God Friday.  His sons Alexander and Rufus are mentioned again later in Scripture, implying that the family became Christians.  But what happened after Simon's quick encounter that led to his family's conversion?
  • This 40 page book incorporates what we know from Scripture with a German folk tale about St. Simon.  It brings Simon to Jerusalem as an egg seller, tells of him helping Jesus on His Way of the Cross, and then has Simon stick around.  Spending time on Holy Saturday waiting with the apostles and Mary, Simon hears the stories of Jesus' life, and then is present on Easter morning when the first news of the Resurrection reaches the disciples.  He returns eagerly to tell his family about his encounter.  The eggs he had brought to sell had been forgotten, but when he arrives home he finds that they miraculously have been changed to bright colors, all symbolizes something about the Christian life.
  • I loved the beautiful illustrations in this book, done by Gabhor Utomo.  The vivid facial expressions as well the contrast of action in the foreground and faded scenes in the background made it visually interesting even for older readers.  It also combines a personal touch to images we see frequently in the form of the Stations of the Cross, making it more relatable for children.
  • A small disappointment was the book's size.  It is only 6 1/4" x 7 1/2" (which is correctly listed in the book's info), but it does make it a little harder to use as a read aloud.  I'd love to see a new edition with much larger pages allowing the readers to see all the details of the lovely illustrations.
  • I would highly recommend this book as an addition to your home or classroom as a book to help celebrate Lent and Easter, as well as for a study of early Saints or evangelization.

Confessions of St. Augustine, {A}

  • Confession of Katie- I'm actually not very far in my reading of this book.  I picked it up to reread for the first time since college, and I think I am just going to have to work my way through it slowly.  Obviously full of rich truth for contemplation, I'm planning on keeping up with a chapter here and there to chew on.
  • After looking over some of the resources in this edition (nice footnotes, good forward, info on Augustine's writings, etc.) I realized I needed a refresher on the timeline of St. Augustine's life.  Reading the biographies of Saints (or autobiography, in this case) helps us focus on the truth of these people's lives, not just the legends.   (FYI, I couldn't find my exact edition on Amazon, so you'll have to compare the various versions available for the resources you might want).
  • Uniquely, St. Augustine addresses his autobiography directly to God.  He is the only audience that matters after all:
  • "So I will confess what I know about myself.  I will confess also what I do not know. What I can discern is shown because You shine on me.  What I do not know will not become clear until my darkness is like the day at noon, illuminated by Your face.  Not without doubting, but with assured consciousness, I love You, Lord.  You Word struck my heart, and I loved You.  Heaven and earth and all that is in them call me from every side to love You."
  • Have you read Augustine's Confessions?  I look forward to continuing, and would love to hear your thoughts or favorite parts!

Life of Christ, Fulton J. Sheen, {A+}

  • This is my very very very favorite book.  After the Bible, it has been the book that I have learned the most from.  My dear Fulton Sheen leads the reader through an in depth Scripture and tradition based study of the life of Christ from the Annunciation to the Ascension.  Packed with so much wisdom, my copied is underlined, written in, and falling apart.  It is the source of many of the notes in the Gospels of my Bible, and continually makes me think and pray.
  • I reread this book, either in entirety or in chunks, during Lent each year.  The pacing makes it perfect especially during Holy Week, which is retold in minute detail.  It is rich, but also attainable, so don't be afraid to just read a chapter at a time to really soak it in. 
  • I've actually written about this book and how it came to be mine in an interview with Nancy at Reading Catholic.  If your curious about the old-beaten-up-tape-covered copy, go check out in her Lent Book Series.
  • "God's delays are mysterious; sorrow is sometimes prolonged for the same reason for which it is sent.  God may abstain for the moment from healing, not because love does not love, but because love never stops loving and a great good is to come from the woe."

A Family of Saints, The Martins of Lisieux, Fr. Stephane-Joseph Piat, OFM,{A-}

  • Surprisingly, with this beautiful cover and the recent Canonization of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, this book is actually quite old- published originally in 1948 in French. This new edition is of course timely, but threw me off a bit when I actually started reading.
  • You might think, being written six decades before the Canonization of Louis and Zelie, the focus of this book would be entirely on St. Therese, but it's actually not.  Almost half of the book passes before Therese is even born, so the content of the book is much more about the lives, marriage, and parenting of Louis and Zelie.  In rich detail, it show how they raised up their holy daughters in the midst of extreme suffering- loss of four children and other close family members, business difficulties, and the illness and early death of Zelie.  I don't think that Fr. Piat would be a bit surprised that St. Therese would not be the last in her family to officially be recognized as a Saint.
  • Relying heavily on the letters of St. Zelie (who wrote extensively to her children and extended family) as well as St. Therese's autobiography, we get a unique primary-source look at the life of the family and the true domestic church that Zelie and Louis created in their home.  I felt a special affection for St. Zelie before, and she has firmly cemented her way into my heart after reading this book.
  • This book is long- almost 400 pages- and uses rich detail and poetic language to tell the story of the Martin family.  I loved learning so much about each of them, reading their thoughts, and coming to understand their stories.  However, because of the style, it was a little heavier of a read than what I was hoping for.  This is a book that could use an updated, abridged translation for a new generation to learn about the Martins of Lisieux. 
  • "God gave me a father and a mother more worthy of heaven than of earth." 

There's my new recommendations for Saint books!  My to-read list grows longer and longer, so I'm almost afraid to ask...but what do you think I should read next?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Divine Mercy Sunday Activities

Divine Mercy Sunday is just a few days away!  There's still time to plan an activity for your family, CCD class, or classroom.  Here are some easy but meaningful projects ready for you to use:

Click here for a Divine Mercy watercolor art project, including a way to simply explain the symbolism of the colors in the Divine Mercy image:

Click here for pattern and instructions for making a Divine Mercy melty bead craft:
(Which could also double as a cross stitch pattern)

Click here for ideas for several easy and cheap mercy bulletin boards:

Click on the image below for a printable for making a "pop-out" Divine Mercy Chaplet:

Click on the image below for a notebooking activity connecting the Image of Divine Mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Click on the image below for a post about making a lapbook connecting the Image of Divine Mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Here are a couple of Divine Mercy craft ideas that are simple and cheap that haven't made their way into their own blog posts:

One quick Divine Mercy craft you could make is this cute mini shrine:

It is made with a repurposed Altoid tin and features the Image of Divine Mercy, instructions and the words to the prayers, and a pop-out Divine Mercy Chaplet.  You can also check my original post about making mini shrines.

Another super fast idea is to make these little decade Rosaries/Chaplets.  The heart and the vertical beam of the cross are one long bent pipe cleaner and the horizontal beam of the cross is a short (~2") piece of a pipe cleaner twisted on.  String on ten pony beads, twist together, and you have a chaplet that can easily be used by little fingers- they can even slide the beads as they pray.  These also could be used for good deed beads.  I used blue, white, and red colors to remind us of the symbolism in the Image of Divine Mercy.

May God richly bless you this Divine Mercy Sunday!

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter: Fifty Days to Celebrate

Christ is Risen! Alleluia!
He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

Easter Sunday may have been yesterday, but the season of Easter goes on for fifty days.  From now until Pentecost, keep the Risen Christ alive with your kids using some of these activities!

Click on the pictures for the links to the original posts, complete with printables and instructions.

The Way of Light Coloring Book
During Lent, we pray the Way of the Cross, the fourteen stations that tell the story of Jesus' Passion and Death.  During Easter, there is also a set of fourteen stations about the stories that happened between the Resurrection and Pentecost. The Biblical accounts are collected with simple pictures and the Scripture references in this mini coloring book:
 Here you can see a screen shot of the four page printable:

The Way of Light Easter Sunrise
This craft creates a Easter sunrise with a ray of sun for each of the stations of the Way of Light:

The Way of Light Resurrection Eggs
This activity creates a set of Way of Light Easter eggs.  Each egg contains small objects that tell the story of the days of Easter:

The Way of Light Story in a Bag
Using simple objects collected in a bag, this project helps kids be the story tellers of the events of the Easter Season:

Way of Light Adult or Teen Bible Study
Seven part Bible study for individuals or groups:

Paschal Greeting Printable
The traditional Easter greeting in the form of a simple coloring page, great to hang up in your home or classroom:

Easter Playlist
Jam to the sounds of the season:

Easter Posters
Have some fun with lettering techniques and Scripture verses with special Easter significance while making these Easter posters:

Gospel in an Eggshell
Using tiny objects that fit into a plastic Easter egg, wrap together the story of Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection:

New Life Seeds
Connect the death and resurrection of Christ to the growth of seeds this spring time:

Fulton Sheen Quote Coloring Page
"Unless there is a cross in our lives, there will never be an empty tomb; unless there is a crown of thorns, there will never be the halo of light; unless there is a Good Friday, there will never be an Easter Sunday."

Resurrection Eggs
These eggs contain small objects and strips of Scripture that tell the story of Holy Week:

What Easter Looks Like Printable
Black & white and color printable of the symbols of the Easter season:

Regina Coeli Mini Book
During the season of Easter, we do not continue to pray the Angelus, but instead pray the Regina Coeli.  This mini book contains the prayer, some explanations, definitions of words, and pictures to color:

Debunking Resurrection Theories
This graphic organizer contains several of the theories that try to explain away the idea of the Resurrection of Christ.  It could be used as a discussion starter for a middle or high school youth group study on the truth of the Resurrection.

Women of the Resurrection Adult or Teen Bible Study
Seven part Bible study for individuals or groups, including Scripture verse coloring pages:

Divine Mercy Sunday
Check out this post for some ideas for celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday:

These activities tie together Pentecost and the Sacrament of Confirmation:

I wish you and the kids in your lives a very blessed Easter season!

Friday, April 14, 2017

This Great Silence

Sometimes my Seasons of Lent seem to have a theme.  This year, that running undercurrent was Holy Saturday- quiet, simple, sorrowful, and a time of waiting.  Through all the weeks of Lent, this Holy Saturday theme carried throughout, and popped up in many of the things that I read, listened to, and experienced.  If you are around on social media today, I wanted to share some of these great resources about Holy Saturday.  I also made a coloring page and a printable of my favorite line from the poem that has been running through my head.  You can print them below.

Wishing you a blessed and beautiful Holy Saturday and a glorious Easter!

Today a great silence reigns on earth, a great silence and a great stillness. A great silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. . . He has gone to search for Adam, our first father, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow Adam in his bonds and Eve, captive with him - He who is both their God and the son of Eve. . . "I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. . . I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. (Ancient Homily on Holy Sunday, CCC 635)

Catholic Stuff You Should Know Podcast: He Descended into Hell

Not Your Average Joe, by Daria Sockey,  Includes poem "Limbo" by Sr. Mary Ada

CCC 631-637

Click here for the black and white printable coloring page:

Click here for the watercolor printable:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Triduum

We are entering in to the holiest three days of remembrance and celebration.  You can get this quick signs and symbols coloring page about the Triduum in my Liturgical Year Coloring Book.  It would be a great way to remind kiddos (and us) about the special meaning of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.  Use it to begin discussions, as a springboard for reading the stories from the Gospels, or even as a countdown by hanging it up and coloring the appropriate symbols each day.  

Click on the image or the link above to print your own copy:

I wish you and your family a very blessed and memorable Holy Week!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

RCIA Welcome Gifts

In less than two weeks at the Easter Vigil, adults all over the world will be joining the Catholic Church and receiving the Sacraments of Initiation for the first time.  As a school, we love to celebrate with our these new members of our parish family.  Since our 5th grade curriculum centers so heavily on the Sacraments, we make a special gift that connects to the three Sacraments of Initiation- Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.

One of our favorite kid-to-RCIA-candidate gifts is this Exploding Sacrament Book.  You can find a step by step guide for folding here.  We used three sheets of 12" x 12" cardstock for each book.

It folds down to a 6" x 6" book, but opens up to a fun mini poster.

Usually two or three students work on the book together.  We added the title "welcome" across the open book:

On the various folds and flaps on both sides, the students then added personal notes:

And art relating to each Sacrament:

And Bible verses for each Sacrament:

The kids do such great work, and really put a lot of effort in making the RCIA candidates feel welcome.  Here are a few more pictures of their art and notes:

Finally, we fold them up, add a cover, tie them together with a bow, and deliver to our newest Catholics!  This project would also work so well for any school/CCD students receiving their Sacraments for the first time.

If you have less kids, less time, or want to do something less complicated, you could make a simple trifold card with a section for each of the Sacraments of Initiation

We welcome all those joining the Church this Easter!