Saturday, March 28, 2020

Holy Week (at Home) Editable Schedule and Resources

Holy Week... at Home.
It's the last thing I would normally be recommending to families- usually I encourage everyone to attend as much of the Liturgy during Holy Week as possible.  But most of us will live through our first Holy Week without the Sacraments this year. As a teacher and a DRE, I am not only preparing my own heart, but also thinking about the families that I work to support.

So as I've be planning, this is what I've come up with. Holy Week and the Triduum are the most beautiful retreat Catholics are invited to partake in each year. Because of the suspension of public Masses in the US and across the world, the way we celebrate is obviously going to look very different. I decided to make a calendar of the week filled with ideas for each day that we can share with our families. We are blessed that the internet is filled with SO MANY incredible resources for liturgical living... but let's be honest, that can be overwhelming, especially if you are jumping in for the first time. I wanted to limit things down to a starting point for families, and offer activities that would work well for a variety of ages. I pulled together some of my favorites to go along with the Gospel Readings from this year and created a one page schedule to share with my students' families.

The schedule includes:
-Suggestions for Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday
-Spots to list recommendations for viewing Mass online (EWTN, local church, etc.)
-Suggested Scripture reading from the Gospel of the day
-List of FREE activities including:
   -Videos (all on YouTube or Formed, which has a free trial right now)
   -Simple craft
   -Coloring Page
   -Food/snack suggestion
   -Song or music playlist

I'm going to share this Holy Week Retreat schedule with you in an editable format (on Google Slides). You can make a copy or download it (use in Microsoft PowerPoint) and edit it to fit the needs of your home, classroom, parish, or school. Then save as a pdf and email out to anyone you like.

***UPDATE- Click here for a Spanish translation of the schedule shared from a blog reader!

As a companion resource for kids watching the Liturgies or reading the Gospels with their families, I also made this Holy Week Journal. It lists the name of the day, the Gospel to read, lines for journaling or copying a favorite verse, a question to think about, and a little bit of clip art to color. I picture it being copied single sided (which makes sense if parents are printing at home) and the blank back of each page being used as a space to draw a reflection or letter a Scripture card. The second page of the journal contains some suggestions/ideas for how to use it across a variety of ages.

Here's a preview of what the inside pages look like:

***UPDATE- And thanks to another reader, here is the Holy Week Journal in Spanish!

***And now in FRENCH too!
And Portuguese:

I know that your family might have other traditions or prayers or foods that you typically enjoy during this holiest of weeks. And that is awesome! That's one of the reasons I made this schedule editable. I just tried to pull together resources for people with limited supplies/time or who are overwhelmed with choices.

It's my hope that this schedule and journal makes planning for parents, teachers, and church leaders to be able to more easily send ideas to the families you work with. If you have any suggestions or great ideas that might help us all, please send them my way or add them in the comments. Despite "social distancing," I think that we all understand better than ever how reliant we are on one another. May God richly bless you and your loved ones during this Season!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Rosary Petitions for a Time of Pandemic

The last thing that I did together with my students before our school closed for the foreseeable future was pray the Rosary. It was a Friday, so we used the Sorrowful Mysteries, and it was easy to add in a reflection for each decade with a few petitions for the needs of the world around us during this covid-19 pandemic. I ended up writing those petitions down, sharing them on the blog and on Instagram, and they got a wide response from others who desire to pray in a similar way.

I've been praying the rest of the Mysteries these past days through the same lens, and after requests to write down reflections for all the Mysteries, I've got some resources for you today. To make it a little easier to share with you, I have both pdfs and jpgs that you can print out, add on social media, or pull up on your screen as you pray.

The petitions I've set with the Mysteries are what have come to mind as I've been praying for all during this pandemic. Some have to do with the practical suffering around us, some are for leadership and decision making, and some are for the spiritual good that can triumph through sacrifice. There are obviously thousands of things to pray for, so this list is limited. But I hope that it serves as a resource for those who are struggling with the words to say right now, as well as an inspiration for your own specific prayers.

A few notes:
-As stated above, these lists are not all inclusive. I know that there are many, many more things to pray for. That's the beauty of the Body of Christ- we all bring our unique perspective when we cover the world in prayer. Please add in your own voice!
-There is some blank space to the right of each set of petitions, so if you print these out you can write in your own prayers, as well as specific needs. For example on the petition for health care workers, write a list of all the doctors, nurses, home health providers, etc. that you know and pray for them by name during that decade.
-While pretty much everything on my blog is aimed at the religious education of kids, these were not created with them in mind. They were created for you, the adult, who is carrying the weight of this for your children. While these Rosary Petitions might still be a good tool for older kids who are handling the pandemic info well, they are not intended for those kiddos who are younger or who need some separation from the stress and details of what is happening.

Click HERE to download the pages as pdfs or right click on any image below to save as an image.
Or you can open this folder for all of the files in one place.

AND! Big thanks to reader Helga, the petitions are also available in Spanish! The pdf and jpgs are available in the same folder, or click on the image below for the pdf:

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Happy Feast Day of St. Joseph!

So, it's St. Joseph's Feast Day- a Saint who is so dear to me and a feast day that I love to celebrate with my students. But amid the world pandemic right now, I can't celebrate in person with my students or even attend Mass. But we can pray together, and there is no better Saint to ask for the intercession of right now. Not only is Joseph the patron of the Universal Church and Protector of Families, but he is the patron of the sick and of a holy death. And that "Terror of Demons" title sure couldn't hurt us with everything going on.

I have quite a lot of St. Joseph resources on the blog, but I have a few new ones to share, so I thought it would be worth it to round them all up in one post. Some of these links (the ones toward the top) will open right into the printable/file. Others will open to other blog posts with the details that you need.

No matter how you celebrate today, let's all call on the intercession of St. Joseph for the world as a whole as well as the individual needs of each household and person.

Social Distancing makes it a perfect time to send some cards to let people know you are thinking about and praying for them! Click here for a printable card with the Pure Heart of St. Joseph and the Memorare to St. Joseph.

St. John the XXIII wrote this beautiful prayer for fathers, and you can use it with these prayer cards:

Click here for a version of the Litany of St. Joseph that is easy to pray in a group- set it to full screen either on your computer, TV, or smartboard:

Click here for a fun five question scavenger hunt in Google forms. It will make a copy for you, so you can edit it to fit the needs of your kids/students.

Easy St. Joseph Shrines You could make these shrines as simply or as detailed as you like using a favorite coloring page or St. Joseph or have your kids draw their own!

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.

Wooden Sculpture or Mural
Today it would be fun to build something from wood, even if it is Lincoln Logs, popsicle sticks or toothpicks! The collaborative mural 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 (mostly those from the Litany of St. Joseph) and we assembled them into this bulletin board.

St. Joseph's Day Bread:
One school I worked at had a tradition that fresh bread was blessed on his feast day and passed out to everyone.  Each class shared a loaf while thanking St. Joseph for his provision and protection, and each student took a small loaf home to share. Today would be a great day to bake bread together as a family!
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 a job I loved at a school named for St. Joseph.  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 for his March 19th Solemnity or leading up to May 1st for St. Joseph the Worker, you could use this color-a-novena printable.  There's one lily to color in for each day you pray.  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.

I hope you have a blessed St. Joseph Day!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Ideas for Learning and Praying at Home

What a crazy 48 hours we've had. With sweeping cancellations, including my school until at least April and public Mass and all church programs until further notice, I know I'm not the only one praying and trying to wrap my head around what the next few weeks will look like.

Yesterday during my last classes with my students, we talked over and over about our Christian call to mercy- but how it has to look different right now. To help, we usually want to visit the elderly to keep them company, sit with and comfort the sick in the hospital, cook meals for those in need, and gather together for prayer- but none of those things are possible in the present moment. Instead, we pray "together" from our own homes, and we inconvenience ourselves and make sacrifices to keep others safe.

Something else we can do is use the power of social media for something good. Instead of spreading fear and hysteria, so many are using it as a tool to connect and support.

Because of all the school and church program closings, I've been getting emails and messages about permission to print large quantities or email resources from my blog. And the answer is a resounding yes! These things are always free and here for you to use and share. I do appreciate people being conscientious, and when possible you are welcome to credit back or link to me (mostly so those that want can find more resources!) But please share as you need to during this time.

I pray daily not only for my own students and their families, but also for all of you, your kids and students, and their families. What I want to offer here is a lot more than a bunch of pdfs. We are united as part of the Body of Christ and all one family in the Church.

With that, I thought I'd round up a few resources that are easy to share or simple to complete at home. All of these are free, with the exception of the books- I can't be responsible for the books you buy while quarantined ;). You are also welcome to scour the tabs above, but here are some favorites!

Resources for those without access to Mass and the Sacraments:
Live stream/video of Mass here and here
Live stream Adoration here
Act of Spiritual Communion prayers here and here
Catholic Icing resources for Mass (an awesome list of resources for kids when you can't attend Mass)

Resources for prayer in general:
Printable Prayer Cards
Lectio Divina Prayer Prompts- Can use with any part of the Bible
Videos of prayers and prayers to song
Free Saint coloring pages from Society of Saints
Faith Over Fear coloring pages from Just Love Prints
Catholic Saint Coloring Pages from Catholic Paper Goods
Psalm coloring pages (there are ten months worth in the archives)
ACTS Prayer and Adoration resources (use with livestream above)

Books lists: (If you can still check out from the Library, borrow/buy ebooks, or order a few new books online)
Favorite Books for Catholic Kids
Other Katie Reads Book Reviews

Video playlists on YouTube:
Lent and Easter Videos
Music for Lent
Christ the King Music Playlist (strong themes of triumph and God's strength)
Videos on the Saints
Fr. Mike Schmitz Videos (great for junior high & high schoolers)
Chosen Sessions from Ascension Press (great for those preparing for Confirmation)
Fulton Sheen Videos
Sacrament Videos (lots that would be good in here for kids preparing for Reconciliation, First Communion, or Confirmation)

Celebrate St. Patrick and St. Joseph's Feast Days
St. Patrick Prayer Card
St. Joseph Memorare Prayer Card
St. Joseph Novena Coloring Page
Celebrating St. Joseph Day
Easy St. Joseph Shrine
Sleeping St. Joseph Activities

Ideas for Pre-K/Kindergarten/1st Graders:
Creation Numbers Coloring Book
Stories and Scripture- ideas for connecting faith to picture books you already have
Sacrament Mosaics
Holy Family Coloring Page
St. Francis Coloring Page
St. Peter and St. Paul Coloring Pages
St. Abigail and St. Ambrose Coloring Pages
Tiny Saints Coloring Pages

Ideas for 2nd Graders:
Divine Mercy Watercolor Art
Sacred Heart of Jesus Coloring Pages
Monstrance Art Project
Mass Activity Sheets

Ideas for 3rd-5th Graders:
Teaching Tools for the Ten Commandments
Teaching about the Parables
Miracles of Jesus Bible Study
Healing Ministry of Jesus Bible Study
Draw Your Sword Scripture Game
Divine Mercy Melty Bead Craft
Creed Tetris Puzzle
Paschal Candle Craft
Station of the Cross Art Project

Ideas for Junior High/High School:
Home Learning Day Choice Board This is one of the things I sent home with my students (nine options- available for you to edit)
Lectio Divina Journal Starters
Lent Visio Divina Gallery Walk
Beatitudes and Modern Saints Game
Confirmation Saint Graphic Organizers
Bible Story Flip Books
Smash Prayer Journals
Structure of the Bible
Virtues and Saints Bible Study Part 1 and 2
Connecting the Passover and the Passion Bible Study

Let us all pray, through the mercy of God, that these restrictions pass quickly and safely and leave us with a world that is stronger, kinder, and called back to Christ. I posted this reflection on the Sorrowful Mysteries yesterday on Instagram, which is how I will be praying for the duration.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Lenten Prayer Challenge (with an editable version!)

Hey all! Just a quick post to share an activity I've been using for a couple of years to help my middle schoolers pray during the Lenten Season. 

I set aside Mondays as a day for prayer of some kind in my classroom- that might mean we are working on the Virtues, spending time in Lectio Divina, going on a walking Rosary in nice weather, or visiting the Adoration chapel. During Lent, I schedule time for us to spend in the church so that the kids are in the Eucharistic Presence of Jesus, but have room to spread out, can get up and walk the Stations of the Cross, have time to actually look at the stained glass windows and art, etc.

To keep them motivated and focused, but to also honor their choice and different preferences about prayer, I designed this "Lenten Prayer Challenge." They each tape one in their prayer journals and with a few instructions we head off to the church. 

Here's the deal- it's not a quantitative assignment, which can be hard for teachers (and some kids). There is no prize for finishing, or timer going off when it is time to switch. Instead I created sixteen different Lenten themed prompts and ask them to try all of them at some point during our 4-5 visits to the church. I recommend for most that they try 3-4 each time we visit, allowing them to focus on a task for about ten minutes at a time. If they want to switch more often, ok. If they want to do one of the same prompts every week, fine by me. As long as they are trying and praying, the activity is successful. I often ask them to write a quick reflection or exit ticket to let me know the fruit of their prayer, but this isn't your typical graded assignment.

I adapted our version for one that would work in most churches and I'm sharing it with you below. But knowing you might want to change it to fit the need of your students or children, there is also an editable version you can make your own. I hope that they are tools that lead to deeper prayer this Lent!

If your audience is middle or high schoolers (or even adults) here is the printable to the ready-to-go version:

And if you'd like to adapt and make it your own, click on this Google Slides file, make a copy or download, and edit away:

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Renewing Baptismal Promises Activity- Perfect for Lent and Easter

Lent is a perfect time to be thinking about Baptism. First, we remember that during Lent we are called to die with Christ so that we can also celebrate the Resurrection with Him, just as we do in Baptism. We also witness the preparation of those that desire to enter the Church this Easter as they draw nearer to the time of their own Baptisms. And we also know that we will renew our Baptismal Promises at Easter and the new Paschal Candle, used for Baptisms for the rest of the year, will be blessed at Easter Vigil. Plus, every Sunday is a little Easter, so any Sundays are a good day to think about our Baptisms!

So as my students were finishing up a unit on the Sacrament of Baptism this week, it was perfect timing to dive a little deeper into the rites and rituals that happen at a Baptism. They have a good knowledge of the form and matter, as well as the symbols used, so on our last day we closed our study by reading some of the beautiful prayers from the Rite of Baptism. We focused on two of my favorites- the Blessing of the Baptismal Water and the Renewal of Baptismal Promises.

I printed a copy of the Baptismal Promises for each of my students so they could read and examine them- and they quickly realized that after saying no to Satan, what we are saying yes to are the tenets of the Creed. I intentionally made their copies long and narrow so after reading the words, they could flip them over and design their own Baptismal Candle using the symbols they had learned about. (You can get the printable at the end of the post if you'd like to try the same!)

Then, we closed in a time of prayer, renewing our Baptismal Promises together and blessing ourselves with Holy Water. The activity was made even more special by using my new Holy Water bottle from Reliquary Supply Co.- a new little business that is striving to create things that are true, good, and beautiful.

(Reliquary Supply Co. sent me a free holy water bottle to review. All opinions are my own- and I only review things I've used and love!)

Just look at this lovely Holy Water Bottle! The design is both modern and classic, and the small details make this sacramental truly lovely. The heavy glass bottle holds a generous 4 oz. and has a prayer printed right on the back.

The packaging for this lovely little bottle is so thoughtfully done, making it a pleasure to open and perfect for gifting. I love that their bottle presents an opportunity to celebrate so many occasions- Baptisms, First Communions, Weddings, etc.- by filling the bottle with Holy Water from the church that day as a way to remember those significant moments, as well as just for regular use of Holy Water in your home or classroom. It makes a timeless and beautiful keepsake. They also have a unique Baptismal Candle, and the two together would make a wonderful gift for a new baby or a new Catholic coming into the Church this Easter. If you're thinking of all the ways you'd like to make use of their great designs, Reliquary Supply Co. has graciously offered a 10% discount to my readers with the code KATIE10. Go check them out- and I can't wait to see what they come up with next!

Click here for the Baptismal Promises Candle printable:

This post has more ideas for teaching about the Paschal Candle, which is an especially great activity for Holy Week:

Or click here for a Baptism activity that includes these water drop Baptismal promises: