Wednesday, August 29, 2018

We Love Our Church!

(One part printables for our new CCD year, one part brief commentary on the current Church scandals.)

This year, my parish is celebrating the 150th year since the dedication of our church building- isn't that awesome?! Our parish is a bit older and there were two other churches for short times in the 1840's-1850's, but construction began on the new Immaculate Conception Church in 1866 and was completed in 1869. We are planning a whole year of celebrations leading up to a special Mass on the dedication date next year. Because the entire parish is focusing on this, I've been working on ways to incorporate the importance into our Religious Education Program.

So our theme this year will focus on the Sesquicentennial. For those of your that have used the room signs and folder covers, etc. that I post here each year, unfortunately, our theme materials won't really fit any program but ours. I'll suggest that you check out the other themes that I have printables and decor posts for here:
Divine Mercy Theme
Built on the Rock Theme

We'll be using lots of Marian themed items, especially this Mother of the Church craft I created with the coming anniversary year in mind (the church that Mary is holding is a drawing of our church!). We'll also be tying in St. Maximilian Kolbe as a patron Saint because of his deep devotion to Mary, founding of the Militia Immaculata, and connection to other parish activities during the year.

So one thing I knew I wanted the kids to create at the beginning of the year was some kind of display to show what they loved about the church- THEIR church.  I wanted them to feel ownership of this celebration as the group that will carry our parish into its next 150 years.  So I made up these cute sheets for the kids to write and draw about what they love- it might be the nice lady who smiles at them every Sunday, or receiving the Eucharist, or a certain song the choir sings... or let's be honest, coffee and donut Sunday. :) I gave these different versions of the "I Love My Church" pages to my catechists to use as they want in their classrooms, and then hope to display them together in our CCD hallway and feature snippets and pictures in our parish newsletter.

I'm excited to see what the kids come up with, and tried to give some flexibility in style to fit the different ages.  I've got three styles of printables:
-large illustration, short caption (could be teacher written)
-medium illustration, longer caption
-"newspaper" set up- longer article, small illustration, room for a topic list
You can use these printable with your students by clicking on any of the images of the We Love Our Church page above.

I planned this project long before the current scandal(s) broke to the media, detailing devastating and disgusting crimes against the innocent by those who should have been the first to protect them.  I'm still reeling from the blow this has been to believers, the pain I feel for the victims, and the very necessary call for justice and change.  My heart aches for the good and holy priests and my blood boils for the shepherds who did irreparable damage to their flock.  

So this cutesy little activity might seem insensitive or wrong or something that needs tossed in the garbage.  I considered that for a bit.  But instead I now see that this is the very perfect time to look to the Church, the capital C Church, whom the gates of hell shall never prevail against.  We do not put our faith in a particular priest or bishop or parish or diocese.  We trust and follow Christ.  Period.  We are part of the Body of Christ.  And we have a responsibility to go to battle against a very real and ancient enemy.

As catechists returning to the classroom, our utmost responsibility (after rooting out evil and protecting the innocent) is to raise up the next generation of young Catholics who love Christ and the Church.  Future Saints who cultivate virtue and desire a world free of vice.  Warriors ready to fight the good fight.  A generation that someday, those looking back will say, "Yes.  That was a terrible time for the Church.  So much brokenness and rebuilding.  But look at the Saints that arose in their midst."

Finally, if you haven't already been, go back and read the Sunday and Daily Readings from the past couple of weeks.  A Scripture scholar could not have better handpicked passages from the Bible to illustrate our lament, God's call for justice, and the solid foundation in Christ that remains.  I highly recommend Bonnie's most recent post which is reflection of these events woven amidst the recent Mass readings.  

There are no better words to close with than those from this Sunday's Gospel:

As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." ~John 6:66-69

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, guide us.
Pure Heart of St. Joseph, pray for us.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Katie Reads {12} Back to School

Summer may have flown by, but one thing I made sure to do a lot of this summer was read.  I'd love to share with you some of the things I've been reading and maybe you'll see one that will be a good fit for your home or classroom.  This week's edition of Katie Reads features books for kids, and next week I'll share the books I read for myself. :)

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. :)

Staircase for the Sisters by Pamela Love, Illustrated bu John Joseph. ***
  • This sweet picture book retells the holy legend of an impossible staircase being built in a new church for a group of Sisters in New Mexico.  After praying a novena to St. Joseph, a mysterious carpenter visited and built an miraculous spiral staircase.  The carpenter left without receiving his pay or leaving his name, so tradition holds that St. Joseph himself built the staircase.
  • Included at the end of the book are pages about the real Loretto Chapel staircase in Santa Fe, info about St. Joseph, an explanation of a novena, and a novena to St. Joseph.
  • A perfect book for St. Joseph day or an introduction to novenas and answered prayer, I love how the author and illustrator worked together to tell this inspiring tradition that shows devotion to St. Joseph the Worker.

God's Plan for You: Life, Love, Marriage, & Sex by David Hajduk ***

  • This new revised edition of God's Plan for You is a perfect handbook for teens as a tool to help them understand that they were created by love and for love.  It breaks St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body into bite sized pieces while retaining depth.  Beginning with the foundations of the goodness of the body, the purpose of creation, and complementarity of male & female, it then moves into tougher topics like contraception, homosexuality, and cohabitation.
  • The text itself can be heavy, but is broken up by quotes from Scripture, Catechism references, "Did U Know?" facts, Notable Quotables, JP2 in his own words, and closes each chapter with several questions to ponder and share.  Those questions would lend themselves perfectly for families who want to read this with their teen and then dive into the material of the text without being stuck with vague open ended questions like, "So what did you think of this chapter?..."
  • The only thing lacking in my opinion is a good index.  This is the kind of book that a teen (or an adult supporting a teen) probably isn't going to read cover to cover, but might like to pick up and read about a specific topic.  There is a Table of Contents, but the titles are short quips related to the content, so it takes some flipping to find a certain topic.  Overall though, this is a fabulous and approachable resource for introducing Theology of the Body.
Fun with Angels by D. Thomas Halpin, FSP and Illustrated by Virginia Helen Richards, FSP ***

  • Who doesn't love a fun coloring and activity book?  This new one from the Pauline Kids line features stories about Angels from both the Old and New Testaments, as well as how the angels are present in our daily lives.  Coloring pages are mixed in with activity pages of all kinds, and the paper is nice and smooth for using your favorite art supplies.
  • Kids always seem to be fascinated by angels, so I love that so many stories and devotions are gathered right in one kid friendly activity book. 

Who is Jesus: His Life, His Land, His Time by Gaelle Tertrais and Adeline Avril

  • I am thoroughly in love with this book! I saw it recommended in several places online, and knew that it would be a lovely addition to my classroom resources.  I am even more impressed after reading through it.  First, I love the infographic style illustrations that are both simple and sweet without being too childish, printed in a uniform color scheme on thick matte paper.  The Jr. Highers in my class will not think this books looks too juvenile for them, which is half the battle.
  • This book is full of information about life in the Holy Land during Jesus' time.  Its maps and diagrams all support the text as it tells about the culture, religious customs, food, hobbies, and more of Jesus' people.  The first unit I'll be teaching this year is literally titled "Who is Jesus," so I know that this is going to become a frequently referenced text.  It also helps satiate some of the curiosity we might have (or questions we've never thought of!) like what was Jesus' house like?  What kind of food did He eat? What did the disciples wear?  Why were the Romans in the Holy Land?  
  • Understanding this historical context is going to help bring the Scriptures alive, I have no doubt.

To Hear His Voice by Ginny Kochis ###

  • In my next Katie Reads post, I'm going to highlight the Every Sacred Sunday Mass Journal and talk about how it has been the best tool I've added to my spiritual arsenal this year.  All of the things I love about ESS can also be found in this new Mass journal from Ginny Kochis, but for kids! 
  • Published in a quarterly format, this edition of the journal covers September through November.  It includes the full text of the Mass readings from every Sunday, but could totally be used every day throughout the week because of all of the additional resources and prompts.  
  • Each week includes a list of the upcoming Feast Days, a large corresponding Saint quote perfect for decorating, all four Mass Readings, specific reflection questions for each reading, a mediation, and several "go forth" challenges.  All are relevant to the teen/preteen that would use the journal and pull them back to the meaning of the Scriptures without feeling at all like a workbook. The "God's Turn" & "Your Turn" structure is such a neat way to reinforce prayer as a conversation and relationship.
  • I love the size of this journal- it is a full 8 1/2" x 11", so the text is nice and big and there is ample room for notes, prayers, doodles, lists, etc.  That white space is so important for kids as we give them tools to pray- this is a perfect guide with just enough structure but tons of flexibility for kids with different gifts, talents, and interests.  
  • It would make a great gift for your child or Godchild to use during Mass but also all throughout the week. I also could see using it in a classroom (a class set would be incredible!) but if only one is available, the students could use it as a resource to read the Scriptures out loud and then choose some of the meditations or reflections for group discussion.  It's a needed  and well made resource for keeping our older kids engaged in the Mass.

The Church Rocks! A History of the Catholic Church for Kids and Their Parents and Teachers by Mary Lea Hill, FSP ***

  • This is such a fun and approachable history text of the story of the Church from the time of Christ up until the the New Evangelization era of Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis.  I could see it being used as an actual textbook for a Church history unit, but also will serve well as a resource for any upper elementary or middle school classroom. 
  • There is an index at the end of the book for those looking up a specific event or era, but conveniently the book is broken into 21 chapters for the 21 Centuries of the Church.  Want to read about the Roman Martyrs in the 3rd Century?  Turn to Chapter 3.
  • I think my only criticism of the book is the cover- the design and font are not nearly as appealing as the design of the interior of the book.  Once opened, it is attractive and compelling, and I think will be a page turner for a lot of kids- but first they have to pick it up.  It also would be lovely to have the interior, especially the art, printed in color.
  • I wanted to show you a snapshot of the inside pages.  While the whole book is in black and white, it is chock full of holy art, drawings, photographs, timelines, info boxes, etc. making it really fun to flip through. Info also includes Saints and leaders of the times, inventions, what was happening around the world, and more:

That's it for now!  I'll be back soon with all of the fiction and non fiction I read for myself this summer, but first I need to get back to setting up my classroom for my incoming students. :)  Be assured of my prayers for all of you getting ready to kick off a new school year!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Holy Family Hearts Embroidery Pattern

Embroidery has become by favorite summer time craft.  I love that it is simple, inexpensive, and travels well.  It's also a great activity that can be done while sitting and talking with a friend, which basically makes me want to be a character in a Jane Austen novel. ;)

I made a mulit media hoop of the Holy Family Hearts on whim earlier this year, and it got a ton of love on Instagram, and then I made another one for the Beautiful Things giveaway this summer, and recently made some small versions as gifts.  I've used a combination of embroidery floss, felt, and watercolor making each set of the hearts a little unique.  I love the free form creativity of it- I didn't start with a sketch or a pattern, just started working and was happy with what found a home on the hoop (after, well, ripping out a few stitches, of course).

And many, many people have asked if this is a product that I'd be willing to offer in my Etsy shop, but it's just not something that I think I'll ever do.  Embroidery has a low overhead but requires a lot of hours, and I don't want to take the joy out of it by trying to mass produce things.

However, a lot of people have also asked about a pattern, and that I am happy to share!  And I have it ready for you today for free!  I'm by no means an experienced pattern maker, but it contains color photos of different versions, a supply list, suggested steps, a key to the stitches I used, and patterns to cut out and trace for two different sized hoops.

If you aren't familiar with a few basic embroidery stitches (I used the straight stitch, backstitch, lazy daisy, spiderweb roses, satin stitch, and French knots) I totally recommend watching youtube videos to get the hang of them.  The beauty of this pattern is that you can make it your own, with your unique style, colors, and details. I'm thinking next time I might add some beading...

If you decide to make your own Holy Family Hearts embroidery, I'd love to see it!  Email me at looktohimandberadiant (at) gmail (dot) com, or if you post it on Instagram tag me @katherine.bogner and use #holyfamilyhearts.  I can't wait to see what you create!

Click here for the free printable pattern:

And if embroidery isn't your thing, I also have tons of versions of free coloring pages and prayer cards for the Holy Family Hearts, as well as lots of Holy Family Hearts items in my Etsy Shop:

Click here or on any of the images for more:
LookToHimBeRadiant Etsy Shop
Holy Family Hearts Coloring Page and Prayer Cards
Sacred Heart of Jesus Coloring Pages
Sacred Heart of Jesus & Anima Christi Prayer Cards
Sacred Heart of Jesus Color-A-Novena
Immaculate Heart of Mary & Seven Sorrows of Mary Coloring Pages
Immaculate Heart of Mary & Hail Holy Holy Queen Prayer Cards

“I wish to invoke the protection of the Holy Family of Nazareth…it is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families…St. Joseph was a “just man”…may he always guard, protect and enlighten families. May the Virgin Mary, who is the Mother of the Church, also be the Mother of “the Church of the home”…May Christ the Lord, the Universal King, the King of Families, be present in every Christian home as He was at Cana, bestowing light, joy, serenity, and strength”
~St. John Paul II