Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Lent: Ideas to Help Kids Pray, Fast, and Give all 40 Days

Lent gives us 40 days of opportunities to grow closer to Christ. As you are planning for the upcoming season, here are some ideas for you to use in your home or classroom.  This round up post contains music, videos, art projects, or coloring pages, click on the images below to go to the original posts. If you are already thinking ahead to Easter, check out this post or the list under The Church Year tab.

The Sound of Lent: A Song Playlist (my personal go-to music during Lent, but great for a classroom as well)

Books for Lent for Kids and Adults here and here:

Sunset & Shadow Stations of the Cross Project (one of my students' annual favorites!)

Resurrection Eggs (Tell the story of Holy Week with items in each egg)

The Gospel in an Eggshell (Object lesson connecting Advent, Lent, & Easter)

Lent Notes Foldable (notetaking device for the Season of Lent)

Lent Word Cloud Notes (print mine or use as an example to have students make their own)

Give Up, Take Up (Lent goals printable and ideas for Youth Group lesson)

I don't have a link for this one, but we will have a sacrifice crown of thorns in my classroom.  It's a simple grapevine wreath with large brown toothpicks.  When the students make a sacrifice, they can pull a thorn from the crowns and place it in the bowl.

Student created Lenten Acts of Mercy organized by the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy
(It's a great time of year to teach about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.  Find printable coloring pages and mini books here and here.)

Using the Stations of the Cross as Inspiration for Lenten acts of charity

What Lent Looks Like Coloring Page (Also available in the Liturgical Year Coloring Book)

What The Triduum Looks Like Coloring Page

Lent- Pray, Fast, Give Activity

Lent- Pray, Fast, Give Coloring Pages

Passion & Resurrection Peg Doll Set

Connecting the Passover and the Passion (Youth Bible Study, can use movie Prince of Egypt)

New Life Seeds Printable

Fulton Sheen Good Friday & Easter Sunday Quote

I pray you have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Confirmation Saint Graphic Organizers

My students are just a little over a month away from receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.  I'm feeling the crunch of trying to teach-them-all-the-things, which we all know is impossible- thank goodness we have a lifetime to keep learning about the Mysteries of God!  In an effort to teach two concepts at once as well as help the students apply what they are learning, we are working through a series of tasks relating to their chosen Confirmation Saint.  Every Confirmation class requires the students to choose a Saint and using write a report or do a project about that Saint.  My students had to do the basics late last fall when they made their Saint choices, but I wanted to also help them create a keepsake which also getting to know their Saint a little better.

I had a stack of unused 8"x8" blank books (found mine in the Target dollar aisle, but they can be found on school supply websites too), and we have been creating artifacts to assemble into a Confirmation Saint book.  I'd like to share some of the pages with you today if they would be helpful in your own Confirmation prep and instruction.  My students will also add a cross curricular Math project they are making that results in a Stained Glass window of their Saint, and in Art they are working on creating an icon that will be displayed at their Confirmation Mass.  We'll print a small photo of it to include in their book, and I'll also set up a page where the students can add a photo of themselves and their sponsor, etc. 

The graphic organizers I'm sharing are intentionally blank so that you can use them any way that fits the needs of your students.  I'll also share a version that can easily be cut down to 8"x8" if you'd like to try the blank book (or nicer scrapbook) idea, or there are full page versions to use for individual tasks or in a notebook or folder.

First up, here is a basic Saint biography page.  This would be a great intro project once the students have chosen their Saint, but my students will be using this as a review and hopefully sharing genuine and detailed info after all these months of getting to know their Saints ;)  The full page version has an extra section for a quote by or about the Saint, or a Bible verse that describes them.

This project we worked on for St. Valentine's Day.  We discussed that Saints often come in pairs or groups- holiness begets holiness- and therefore they should look for friends and family members themselves who they can walk together in the faith with.  For this task, they had to connect their Saint to another Saint.  It could be (preferably) someone they knew in real life, or a Saint they looked up to and was known to ask for the intercession of.  Honestly, even I was surprised with how many connections we were able to find.  (Out of my 54 students, there was only one we really struggled with, and he has a particularly obscure Saint.)  It was really neat for the kids to see how many of the Saints had an immediate family member that also became a Saint, or for them to read about a group of friends that pursued holiness together. This has been my favorite Confirmation activity we have done so far!  The full page version has an extra box asking the student to connect their own life to the Saints.

This page was a great way to apply knowledge of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  After doing a typical lesson learning about the Gifts (I'll have a post soon with our notes from that), the students had to apply their new knowledge by writing one way that their Saint showed the manifestation of that Gift of the Holy Spirit in their life.  This one really made them think, but hopefully helped them see how the Holy Spirit worked in their Saint and can work in them.  The full page version includes a short definition of the Gifts in the seven boxes.

I don't have my example page done for this one yet but I wanted to include it with the group. ;) This one has the students show how the Fruits of the Holy Spirit could be seen in the life of their Saint.  After learning about the Fruits (again, printables will be in another post soon), they'll apply what they know by choosing four out of the twelve fruits that their Saint particularly exemplified.  In these four boxes they will create a simple comic strip with a caption about four stories from the Saint's life.  The full page version has a spot for a reflection at the bottom.

There are tons of ways to use these printables, whether individually or as a whole project.  There will probably be a few more added to the collection, so check back for more posts! If you are currently preparing a group of students for Confirmation, please know of my prayers both for you and the Confirmands!

Click on the images below for the printables:

Saint Bio 8X8:
Saint Bio Regular:

Saintly BFFs 8x8:

Saintly BFFs Regular:

Saint & Gifts of HS 8x8:

Saint & Gifts of HS Regular:

Saint & Fruits of HS 8x8:

Gifts of the Holy Spirit Cards:

Gifts of the Holy Spirit Mini Book:

Fruits of the Holy Spirit Foldable:

Saint & Fruits of the HS Regular:

Saint and the Corporal/Spiritual Works of Mercy:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Katie Reads {Books for Lent}

Lent is three weeks away!  I'll make sure to post some great activities for kids and classrooms soon, but I wanted to also get you thinking about what you will be reading during the Lenten Season.  Maintaining spiritual reading of challenging books has been an incredibly formative part of my faith.  I often use Lent as a time to step up my reading- whether it is longer books, challenging devotionals, or prayer companions, I find that spiritual reading during Lent is always fruitful.  I'd like to invite you to join me- if finding time to read is tough, or you have a hard time actually finishing books, choose something good, set a pace (many of my recommendations today work perfectly for a page a day or chapter a day), and make it part of your Lenten resolutions.  Maybe you are giving up some social media time, or watching tv, so why not take up a great Catholic book to fill that time?

For several Lents, I've read Fulton Sheen's Life of Christ and it remains my favorite book.  I still pick it up and read parts, but I want to make time for reading a few other things this Lent.  Unlike my other Katie Reads post, that stack pictured is NOT a stack of books I've already read- instead I wanted to share with you the books I considered reading this coming Lent, give you some recommendations to help you find one for yourself, and tell you which I chose for myself.  My choices will be at the very bottom of the post!  And, this particular list is full of books for adults (and one for teens). You can check out my Lent Book Recommendations from last year, which includes titles for both kids and adults, here.

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.
###Sophia Institute Press provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
^^^Ave Maria Press 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 Cries of Jesus from the Cross: An Anthology, by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen ###

I know, I know, I just admitted that I was trying to pick up something different besides my beloved Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen, and here the first book on this list is by Fulton Sheen ;). This brand new book contains an anthology of seven of Sheen's books all relating the the Last Words of Christ from the Cross.  I have read a couple of the books included (Victory of Vice, for example) but several of the titles are out of print and available again in this collection.  Each of Sheen's original books have seven chapters correlating to different aspects of Christ's seven Last Words (virtue, vice, Beatitudes, relation to Mary, etc.). What is truly remarkable about the anthology is that all of that rich writing is now in one place organized by theme.  You can read through all the related teachings and wisdom that Sheen shared in many of his Good Friday retreats in one place.  Also, seven sections from seven books means that there are 49 chapters in this book- a perfect amount to read one chapter each day during Lent.  I've already finished "The First Word" section and had to make myself stop and save the rest for Lent.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Fulton Sheen's teaching is timeless and relevant.  He brings together profound truth in Scripture with the powerful word choice of an orator, leaving a lasting impression that will help you both to better understand your faith while also leaving you filled with wonder at the depth of the wisdom and plan of God.

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, by Brant Pitre
I just finished this book and it was fascinating.  Seeing the unfolding of Old Testament Covenants and Prophecies into their New Testament fulfillment is one of the most profound ways I am drawn deeper into my faith.  In this book, Pitre uses his extensive research of the Jewish Passover, Temple Customs, and the Last Supper to explain why we believe what we believe about the Eucharist.  Using the Old Testament as well as other early Jewish sources and writings of Church Fathers from the first centuries after Christ, this book shows amazing connections between the Passover Lamb, the Manna from Heaven, and the Bread of the Presence with Messianic Prophecies.  This book would be a perfect Lenten read, especially leading up to Holy Week and the remembrance of the Last Supper.  I think every Catholic could gain a better understanding and appreciation for the miracle of the Eucharist from this book.

Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, by Pope Benedict XVI
I've shared in an earlier post that over the summer, I read Jesus of Nazareth and the Infancy Narratives from Pope Benedict XVI, and I've been saving this volume on Holy Week for Lent. After Life of Christ, these books have most formed my understanding of the Gospels.  I have not read this title yet, but am sure that it will not disappoint after how much I gained from the first books in the set.  Pope Benedict XVI's writing is scholarly but warm and attainable, and I know that there will be much to be learned from his wisdom as he walks with us beside Christ from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.

The Spear, by Louis de Wohl
This book has been passed around and talked about by my family over the past year, but I've saved reading my copy for Lent.  I shared how much I enjoyed the author's novel about St. Catherine of Siena in this post, and am looking forward to getting to know the fictionalized story of the soldier who thrust his spear into the side of Christ at the Crucifixion and view the events in Jerusalem through his eyes.  I'm hoping that using fiction will help me see the "same" story in a different way this year. What's your opinion on Biblical fiction?  Sometimes I love it, and sometimes I ... don't... but I trust that this title won't disappoint.

Ok, moving into more devotional/daily reading books for Lent in this second half of the post, so I'll share some of the details you might be curious about as well as a look at the inside.

Lent: One Day at a Time for Catholic Teens, by Katie Prejean McGrady and Tommy McGrady ^^^

Format: Daily
Dated: Yes, but not specific to the year, can be used over and over
Mass Readings: No
Features:Scripture Verse, Reflection, Reflection Questions, Challenge, Prayer

Katie is a sought after speaker in the youth ministry community, and this little Lenten book is a perfect companion for teens.  Each reflection uses relatable situations and real examples that middle and high schoolers can apply to their own lives.  The short reflection is followed by doable challenges, like a question to think about or a short goal for prayer, as well as a more challenging growth opportunity, such as reading a Bible passage and journaling or scheduling a time for Confession.  There are also weekly pages for each Sunday to help the kids set goals for the week.

This little devotional (which is also super affordable even for a group) is the perfect solution to helping teens keep on track and dive into the retreat of Lent.  Too often they (well, don't we all) set lofty goals, fail, and quit, missing the powerful opportunity for growth during Lent that goes beyond giving up chocolate for 40 days.  I'm excited to use these reflections with my students each morning, and think it will translate well in family life, individual use, or in the classroom.

Lenten Gospel Reflections, by Bishop Robert Barron
Format: Daily
Dated: Yes- specific to 2019.  Could be used again next year for same weekday Masses, but Sunday Masses will change for Year A
Mass Readings: Gospel only
Features: Full text of Gospel, Reflection, Reflection Questions, Room to Journal
Special Additions: Set of Stations of the Cross in the Back, both images and prayers

Bishop Barron gives some of my favorite reflections on the Sunday readings. (Do you ever listen to his podcast? It's a great reflection to keep you focused on Sunday Mass throughout the week.)  This booklet is available for free from Word on Fire (plus shipping and handling) or at a discount if you want to order for a group.  I love that it has the full text of the Gospel as well as a short reflection and room to journal.  If you are looking for a Lenten resolution to go along with Daily Mass- maybe try taking notes during the homily using this or another journal.  I plan to keep this one in my purse and make that morning prayer time in the few minutes after Mass before I head to my classroom a little more meaningful.

I also love that it has a full set of the Stations of the Cross, both images and prayers, right in the book so you can pray anytime during Lent.

Remember Your Death: Memento Mori Lenten Devotional, by Sr. Theresa Alethia Noble, FSP ***
Format: Daily
Dated: Yes, but not specific to the year, can be used over and over
Mass Readings: References to all Readings, Weekdays stay the same, Sundays list Readings for Years A, B, and C
Features: Mass Reading References, Scripture Verse, Long Reflection, Examen and Intercessory Prayer, and Journaling Questions
Special Additions: Weekly art of Saints & Memento Mori

Sr. Theresa conducted an interesting experiment last year- she kept a ceramic skull on her desk and used social media to talk about Memento Mori- the concept that Christians must "remember their death" each day.  Have you ever seen art of a Saint depicted with a skull?  Considering that one day we will die, and therefore we need a Savior, is a critical part of our decision to follow Christ.  In this Lenten devotional, Sr. Theresa is bringing back this ancient practice through her written reflections and a guided Memento Mori examen for each day.  I love that this devotional is designed to be used Lent after Lent, because I think that each season we can unpack more layers of truth through the prayer to consider our mortality and desire heaven each day.

Remember Your Death: Memento Mori Lenten Journal, by Sr. Theresa Alethia Noble, FSP ***
Format: Lined journaling pages
Dated: No
Mass Readings: No
Features: Each page features a Memento Mori inspired Bible verse, Saint quote, or other wisdom, otherwise blank and undated for your own journaling
Special Additions: Introduction and How to Use This Journal sections from author

The Memento Mori devotional poses some great questions for reflection and prayer, but doesn't leave any additional space to record your own thoughts.  Cue this matching companion journal, which shares the design and graphics of the book, features Memento Mori themed quotes and Bible verses on each page, and gives you more than 200 undated lined pages to write and journal and pray.

Give Up Worry for Lent, by Gary Zimak ^^^
Format: Daily
Dated: Yes, but not specific to the year, can be used over and over
Mass Readings: No
Features:Scripture Verse, Reflection, Respond Prompt, Prayer

We give up chocolate, we give up tv, but what if instead we gave up worry for Lent?  Many of us can be bogged down by fear instead of relying in the trust that Jesus desires from us.  This devotional specifically focuses on helping the reader dwell in God's rich mercy and move away from fear.  I think that it would be a perfect challenge to help any Christian combat the anxieties of everyday life, hopefully forming new habits of trust and peace.

Open Your Heart: Daily Lenten Reflections from Pope Francis ***
Format: Daily
Dated: Yes, but not specific to the year, can be used over and over
Mass Readings: No
Features: Scripture Verse, Words of Pope Francis, Reflection, Prayer

Pulling from his homilies and writings, this collection of wisdom from Pope Francis brings us from the call to conversion of Ash Wednesday through the joy of the Resurrection. It's perfect little pocket size would make it a great book to carry with you in your purse or keep on your desk, and bite sized snippets just a page long would make it easy to fit into even the busiest of days.

St. Therese of Lisieux's Little Way of the Cross, from Just Love Prints

While praying the Stations of the Cross isn't reserved just for Lent, this pretty little set of prayer cards sure would be a nice way to walk the Way of the Cross with Jesus and St. Therese of Lisieux this season.  The set of heavy laminated cards come on a rose gold ring to compliment to lovely rose and crown of thorns illustrations.  Each Station card has a Scripture verse, a reflection, words from St. Therese's writings, and a short prayer.  Praying the Stations with this new set of prayers is sure to be a fruitful and beautiful experience.  Lindsay is also offering a printable set with license to print for a school or parish, so you could create your own booklets to use with a group!

Ok, so what of this stack am I actually going to read this Lent?  Here's my (probably over ambitious) plan:
-Read Bishop Barron's Daily Gospel Reflections after morning Mass
-Read Lent: One Day at a Time with Catholic Teens with my students at the beginning of the school day
-Read one chapter a day of The Cries of Jesus from the Cross (and I have a friend who is reading this with me= accountability)
-Read The Spear as my fiction book (I've always got one fiction and one nonfiction book going at the same time, so this is normal for me ;) )
-And Read Memento Mori as my reflection/examen before bed

Can I do it? We'll see.  It will help that for part of my Lenten sacrifice I plan to be more disciplined with my time, careful with social media and rest, etc. and I also want to have a structured bedtime (I tend to stay up way too late!).  So I think that the structure and demands of all this reading will help me with my other resolutions as well.

So are you inspired?  What would you like to read this Lent?  I'd love to hear in the comments, or you can join the discussion over on my Instagram!