Paola’s Book Bites: Purity

Here are my go to list of books for passing onto family and friends, on the virtue of purity.  Each book or video offers something practical and more importantly spiritual for fostering purity in our own lives and those most near and dear to us!

Choosing Beauty: A 30-Day Spiritual Makeover for Women
By Gina Loehr
Publisher: Franciscan Media

Gina Loehr does it again, I really enjoyed her insight into the lives of women saints in her book Real Women, Real Saints and learned much from their virtues….now Gina takes us on a real and practical retreat towards inner beauty…the kind that reflects the joy of our Faith. Mascara will help and eyeliner too, but the surest way to a beautiful you doesn’t require hours at the cosmetics counter. The best beauty routine starts within. Choosing Beauty guides you through a day-by-day inner makeover that will give you a glow that can only come through a life infused with the virtues. Learn how to step away from gossip, grow in courage, practice mercy and enter more fully into the qualities that will allow your inner light to shine. A great addition to Choosing Beauty is the inclusion of lively reflections on the virtues presented and questions for discussion. This is a good book to share with your teenage daughters, too! (High School+, 128 pages, PB, $$)

 

All Things Girl: Friends, Fashion, and Faith
By Cheryl Dickow
Publisher: Bezalel Books

In this exciting book, girls will explore John Paul II’s Letter to Women and will learn how to manage their time and money. They will see themselves in the light of Christ and will learn how to develop a rich and rewarding prayer life. All Things Girl is written for tween and teen-aged girls covering such topics as living a soulful life (what does it really mean to have a soul?), discerning a vocation (consecrated, married or single?), developing a prayer life (getting past boredom and into the good stuff!), living responsibly (financially and spiritually) with dignity and modesty, and finding the right role models (like St. Gianna Beretta Molla). This is the book all women wish they had when they were young girls…and now can’t wait to give! (Ages 12+, 84 pages, 7” x 10”, PB, $$)

 

All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters
By Teresa Tomeo, Molly Miller, Monica Cops and Cheryl Dickow
Publisher: Bezalel Books

This much needed and asked for book is filled with information that every young Catholic boy should have at his fingertips. The sections include: Dignity; Virtues and More; Media and Men that Matter; Vocations; Family and Friends; Body; Know Your History; Boys in the Kitchen; Strong Catholic Men Today; and Building a Prayer Life or bettter known as Basic Combat Training. (Ages 9-15, 200 pages, PB, $$)

“This book talks to kids straight on, no soft peddling, no sidestepping. It speaks to them where they live too much of the time – in the pop culture and media world. It says what good, faithful parents want to say, but may not always be able to find the words.” – Dr. Ray Guarendi, Best-Selling Catholic Author and Speaker

Theology of His/Her Body
By Jason Evert

From Genesis we know that God created men and women in His image and likeness, and from the first letter of John that “God is love”. Therefore men and women are made in the image and likeness of Love. This isn’t hard to see. Look at the design of the male and female bodies. They are made for each other. In fact, neither makes complete sense apart from the other. In this book — which utilizes a dynamic, “flip” book design to be “two books in one” well-known chastity speaker and author Jason Evert unpacks the mystery of what is means to be male and female in light of the Theology of the Body in a language teenagers understand. Your young adults will learn about the profound realities to which their bodies point – and how to live chastely and lovingly towards those of the opposite sex in the way we are created and not in the way the “world” is trying to lead them. This book is so well grounded and solid and never talks down to the reader but lifts them towards the divine plan God has placed in their hearts. (HS+, 102 pages, PB, $$)

Love is a Choice
Publisher: Ignatius Press

This sweet video documents the heroic life of St. Gianna Molla through interviews with her husband, children, friends, letters, and family mementos. You actually watch home movies of this amazing saint! Wow!

St. Gianna, who sacrificed her life to save her unborn baby, was a mother, a medical doctor, a lover of opera, art, and culture; one who can speak much to our present day especially when family life is threatened on so many fronts. This DVD contains the following language options: English, Spanish, or Italian. (DVD, 52 minutes)

St. Gianna Molla: Wife, Mother and Doctor
By Pietro Molla & Elio Guerriero
Publisher: Ignatius Press

Another great role model for our time!! Dr. Gianna Molla (1923-1962) was a dynamic and devoted wife, mother and physician. She loved skiing, playing piano and attending concerts in her native Italy. During her fourth pregnancy she was diagnosed with uterine tumors. She refused treatment that would have aborted her child, opting for a surgery that posed greater risk to herself. After delivering the baby she succumbed to an infection from the surgery. Newly canonized, this multi-faceted woman shows us the ultimate maternal sacrifice as a worthy and even joyful martyrdom. A fitting intercessor in this age of endless attacks on unborn children. (High school+, 125 pages, Illustrated, PB $, .epub $$)

“A woman of exceptional love, an outstanding wife and mother, Gianna Molla gave witness in her daily life to the demanding values of the Gospel.”
– Pope John Paul II

Paola’s Book Bites: Apologetics Catholic Style

THE PROVE-IT SERIES Prove it S

By Amy Welborn
Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor

Finally! Finally! Finally!

These books are excellent, well grounded in truth, but also fun, funny, and simply marvelous! So many apologetic books are simply too dense for those of us who are not experts. This series speaks to teenagers in a way that inspires, and gives dialogue that is personal and real. It defends basic truths in a way that everyone can understand. These books are full of charming illustrations and quips such as “An atheist is a man who believes himself an accident.” It also contains more serious arguments, such as Isaac Newton’s statement that, “the existence of a Being endowed with intelligence and wisdom is a necessary inference from a study of celestial mechanics.” Each chapter dissects a separate argument against the Faith. Now teenagers and others can defend themselves with confidence – and a little humor, too! Five different volumes available; God, Jesus, Church, Prayer, and You. (Gr. 7+, approx. 115 pages, PB, $)

Friendly Defenders: Catholic Flash Cards   

by Matthew Pinto, Katherine Andes

Publisher: Ascension Press

Fifty full color flashcards that can help you build a sturdy foundation for the faith in yourself as well as your kids. The five lovable characters make learning about the faith entertaining as well as beneficial. You’ll quickly be able to answer questions like “Why pray to Mary when you can go directly to Jesus”, and “How can you believe a piece of bread is really Jesus?” with simple short answers! Comes in two volumes, 1 & 2. (Ages 8+, 50 full color flashcards, $)

A Philadelphia Catholic in King James’s CourtPhilly Catholic

By Martin de Porres Kennedy

Publisher: Lilyfield Press

An extremely fun way to learn Apologetics! We recommend assigning this book before your high-school student begins their Apologetics Religion course. This novel will engage you as you learn to explain the Faith alongside our story’s hero. Set on a horse-powered farm in Kentucky, 17 year-old Michael visits evangelical relations. Over the summer, Michael joins the Bible studies at his uncle’s non-denominational church and is challenged by many, to defend his faith, using only the Bible. This book covers commonly discussed doctrines such as the Papacy, Mary’s role in salvation, and the Eucharist. The book is charitable, and entertains while it informs. Perfect for teens and adults. Used by hundreds of parishes and groups for RCIA, religious education, book discussion groups, and Bible studies. Don’t miss the dramatic and surprising conclusion.

Philly Catholic Study Guide*Study guide is also available!!
††A Philadelphia Catholic in King James’ Court (Ages 14+, 323 pages, PB, $)
††Study Guide: A Philadelphia Catholic in King James’ Court (53 pages, PB, $)

 

Surprised by Truth Surprised by truth

By Patrick Madrid
Publisher: Basilica Press

When I received this book as a gift from my husband, little did I know that soon we would both be fighting to read it! It is absolutely an amazing,  hopeful, and inspiring collection of 11 conversion stories. You will be touched, moved and motivated to evangelize, while furthering your own knowledge of our glorious faith. Many of the stories have numerous Scripture references, and therefore making it perfect to be used by homeschoolers for the study of Apologetics. Simply amazing!  (High School to Adult, 269 pages, PB, $$)

Surprised by Truth 2 Surprised by Truth 2

By Patrick Madrid
Publisher: Sophia Press

Two Cardinals, five bishops, and scores of Catholic leaders love Surprised by Truth 2—you will, too!
This collection of testimonies by people who’ve found new life in the Catholic Church is one of the most potent weapons for the Faith ever crafted! These authors don’t just tell their stories — they also give you an insider’s view of the fatal weaknesses in the creeds and belief systems that beckon unwary Catholics every day: Fundamentalism, New Age paganism, Mormonism, materialistic hedonism, and many others.
You’ll discover why these converts forsook beliefs cherished by their families and friends in order to enter the Catholic Church. Their reasons are so compelling that you can use them to draw your own non-Catholic friends and relatives to the Faith. These converts will also convince your wavering Catholic friends to stay Catholic, and they’ll even bolster your own faith when anti-Catholic arguments start to make you doubt. You’ll come away with new gratitude that God has given you the Faith, and with a strong new tool you can use to stand proudly for that Faith. (High School to Adult, 320 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

SAN JUAN CATHOLIC SEMINARS—BEGINNING APOLOGETICS SERIES Beginning Apologetics set

By Fr. Frank Chacon, Jim Burnham and Steve Wood

Publisher: San Juan Catholic Seminars

Keep your family and friends Catholic! We keep a set close by our front door and have used them for those door-to-door evangelists, especially Books 2 and 3 on how to answer Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons.  Each booklet in this fabulous series is so well distilled into clear language on each important truth of our faith. We turn to them time and time again for reference in high school religion, especially in our semester of Apologetics. The topics presented in each booklet can be used to form essay topics or debate topics too! I usually require the first in the series to give a general overview of the most essential truths of our faith and a practical way to articulate these truths to others.  Then we devote time on the booklet for Eucharist, the Bible and Mary.  (High School to Adult, approx. 40 pages each, PB, $)

Concordance – One double-sided laminated sheet with Bible references

Beginning Apologetics 1: How to Explain and Defend the Catholic Faith
Study Guide for Beginning Apologetics 1

Beginning Apologetics 2: How to Answer Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons

Beginning Apologetics 2.5: Yes! You Should Believe in the Trinity:How to Answer Jehovah’s Witnesses

Beginning Apologetics 3: Discovering the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

Beginning Apologetics 4: How to Answer Atheists and New Agers

Beginning Apologetics 5: How to Answer the Tough Moral Questions

Beginning Apologetics 6: How to Explain and Defend Mary

Beginning Apologetics 7: How to Read the Bible

Beginning Apologetics 8: The End Times

Beginning Apologetics 9: How to Answer Muslims

Cor Unum! One Heart & The Sacred Heart

The von Trapp family, of the Sound of Music fame, called their home in Vermont “Cor Unum” – Latin for: One Heart. They dedicated it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in so doing, called their family to be of one heart for our Lord.
image from: www.stowetoday.com
image from: www.stowetoday.com
Theirs was a touching and beautiful gesture that we repeated when we purchased our building to run our family business Emmanuel Books in 2001.  We dedicated the building and had it blessed on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and even made a heart shaped cake to celebrate.
We continue to consecrate our works to the Sacred Heart.  It is with much gratitude and love that we offer to you our latest in the “Reclaim the Saints” series for Living the Liturgical Year, Sacred Heart of Jesus! In it you will make your very own Sacred Heart Shrines, Holy Cards, a 10-page Prayer book, learn the history of this devotion and so much more!
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Join us for the month of June and the devotion to the Sacred Heart!

History Worth Remembering Timeline Figures™

Teaching history to children today is imperative.  After all history often repeats itself and we learn important and essential truths from our past. Giving them the perspective of what happened when is critical.  Laying the foundation by making a timeline each year gives you a framework,  perspective.  However, for years we had searched high and low for timeline figures that included a balanced Catholic perspective on history, where the contributions of Catholics throughout time are fairly represented in the context of other events. No creature existed, so we embarked on our own venture . With the aid of balanced resources, we worked for many years as a family pooling together our collective interests and talents to create a set of historical timeline figures.  In fact we made six complete sets and a FREE set of printed lines with dates to make this vital element to any history curriculum possible and EASY!

We named the History Worth Remembering Timeline Figures™ as  I recalled so long ago an article written by Laura Berquist that spoke of 3286the importance of studying history and incorporating timelines with your study.  You can begin as a family making one altogether and make one day a week “Timeline Day”.  Some families have found it helpful to have each child make their own and build on it each year as they study through the major time periods of civilization.

The figures now come in a digital version, to make it affordable for families, buy it once and print up as you need them when you need them as often as you need them for your entire family.  They can be printed on sticky back paper so your child can color them, cut them out and place them in appropriate places on their very own personal timelines. We recommend using durable and sturdy blank books.  either in a landscape or portrait orientation.  Using colored pencils give it a personal touch and work easily for even your little guys.

HWR spread

They can also be placed on index cards or laminated to be used for a history trivia game or on a large bulletin board in your family school room showing the complete span of history. One family told us the kids made colored borders for each figure, each color highlighting those that are saints in the Catholic Church, another color for places, another for events, etc. You too will find many uses for these timeline figures on your own, especially as you let your children guide the way!

HWR Timeline Art

Click here to see Samples of ALL SIX sets:

 

St. Andrew Christmas Novena Holy Card

St. Andrew Christmas Novena Holy Card

We’d like to offer you this St. Andrew Christmas Novena holy card, at no charge, as a token of our appreciation for you to help get ready for our Lord’s birth as we enter the season of St. Andrew novenaAdvent! This two-sided holy card features classical artwork on the front side and the Christmas Anticipation Prayer on the reverse.  Just save,  print and pray!

… And have a blessed Advent this year!

Christmas Anticipation Prayer, also known as the St. Andrew Christmas prayer starts November 30, the feast of St. Andrew and continues through Christmas Eve, December 24th!

This meditative prayer is traditionally said 15 times each day to help us reflect on the TRUE meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ!

 Click on the picture….to get your free download!


Why talk of such sadness? The Feast of All Souls

This past year we attended quite a few funerals…..more than I can ever remember…in part  I suppose it was due to our “getting on in years”….Larry and I are now in our late 50’s…..in part though, it was because some very dear ones died way too soon.  Remembering that we belong to this very huge family of God comforts, heals and has sanctified our lives.  We pray every day for those souls and their families, we ask them to intercede for us and we have hope that perhaps some day we may all be united in the Beatific Vision.

Why talk of such sadness?…well call me crazy but I think it is not sad talk. As a Catholic I have come to understand suffering and death in its proper perspective.

November is the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, where we are asked by Holy Mother Church to remember all those who have died. We are asked to remember those poor souls in prayer in hope that they will rejoice in the glory of God.  We rejoice with the saints who the Church tells us have arrived at His heavenly kingdom and bask in His Glory. In fact the month is ushered in with All Saints Day, which we just celebrated yesterday.

After watching the movie Love is a Choice, the story of St. Gianna Molla, we were all moved deeply by the testimony of her husband, Pietro, who told the story of their son, only five at the time, who had seen his father crying several days after his wife’s funeral. He asked his father why he was crying.  Pietro told his son that he missed his wife so very much.  His son’s answer to this was simple and beautiful, “But Papa she is in heaven now.”

Our former pastor had once told us in a All Souls Mass homily, that his mom would call him about this time every year, to remind him to add the names of family members who died over the past year onto “the list”.  You see he keeps a list of everyone ( and I mean everyone) in his family who has died as a reminder to pray for them and remember them….much like many of our ancestors who would light a blessed candle on the Feast of All Souls, one  for each family member who died that year.   Father’s “list” is a visible sign to him and to us that there is hope, peace, an eternal reward and that we are called to remember and pray.

Several years ago at the Mass for All Souls Larry and I were asked to hold up crosses with a name of a parishioner who had died that year but had no family member present at Mass. We carried them to the altar, taking our turn as  their names were called during the Mass.  We were most grateful and honored to do so,  after all we really are family, members of a much bigger family than those who reside in our home. We are members of the family of God. We belong to Christ Jesus, who laid down his innocent life so that we can have the hope in an eternity with God. That’s really something to rejoice in.

A blessed All Souls’s Day….there is family waiting for your prayers!

“If we knew what may be obtained from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them; they will pray for us.” –St. John Vianney

 

Featured Author: Hilda Van Stockum

Want the perfect read aloud books for the family?  One that will be enjoyable to a range of ages?

Our family has fallen in love with all of Hilda van Stockum’s stories!

Every time we finish reading aloud one of her books, we feel as if the characters have become old friends and a part of our family. They have so much charm and warmth that they seem to literally spring Hilda_van_Stockum_(circa_1957)to life!  Mrs. van Stockum’s books  seem to invite themselves into our home and our hearts. In fact, the author frequently used her six children as models for the characters in her stories, she even put direct quotes from her family into her stories! Her vivid imagery and flair for dialect encourage the reader to become an active participant in the stories where they will travel to rural Ireland, post World War II Canada and Holland to name a few.

Drawing on her extensive travel experiences as a child (her father was in the Dutch Navy), Hilda van Stockum introduces us to some amazing characters including the Mitchell family, living in Washington, D.C. during World War II and the O’Sullivan family from County Cork, Ireland. These families are just like yours! They are very close-knit, deeply rooted in their faith and at times, more than a little mischievous! You are bound to recognize your children and some of their escapades in these delightful stories. Sadly, a few of these treasures are no longer in print but we are happy to carry The Mitchell Series, The Bantry Bay Series, The Borrowed House and The Winged Watchman. These are all excellent read-aloud stories.

The Mitchell ’s Series

The Mitchells: Five for Victory
By Hilda van Stockum

The Mitchells: Five for Victory eVersionThis first volume introduces us to the Mitchell family, whom you will immediately love. With Daddy off to war and summer vacation looming before them, the five Mitchell children form a victory club to occupy their time. The club finds many adventures, including the discovery of a war refugee orphan. Your little ones are bound to see themselves reflected in faithful Joan, gentle Patsy, steadfast Peter, impish Angela, or brazen baby Timmy. This tale is absolutely delightful. Adults and children alike will enjoy reading all about the Mitchell family in Five for Victory. Excellent for read-alouds too! (Ages 10+, 236 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Canadian Summer
By Hilda van Stockum

Canadian Summer eBookThe Mitchell family is back again and this time they have taken their adventures to a whole new country! Daddy’s new job has brought them to Montreal and the only house they can find is miles from the nearest town with no running water nor electricity. Will they ever survive the summer? Follow the Mitchells through the beautiful Canadian countryside as they encounter new friends and new escapades. (Ages 10+, 180 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Friendly Gables
By Hilda van Stockum

Friendly Gables eBookHere come the lively Mitchells again and this time with new additions to the family. This beloved family is now two years older and living at Friendly Gables in Lachine, Quebec. There is never a dull moment in the Mitchell house! Discover how the children cleverly escape the clutches of Miss Thorpe, the nurse who has
come to help Mother. You will be delighted as the Mitchells make new acquaintances and when old friends, the Jolicoeurs,
resurface. (Ages 10+, 165 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

The Bantry Bay Series

Having lived and studied in Ireland herself, Hilda van Stockum brilliantly captures the lilt and melody of the Irish language. You will be amazed at how quickly you’ll master an Irish brogue! Your family will be instantly enchanted with both the O’Sullivan family and the rich Irish history woven throughout these stories. So, gather the whole family together and take a trip across the pond to the Emerald Isle.

The Cottage at Bantry Bay
By Hilda van Stockum

The Cottage at Bantry Bay eBook - 65% OFFFrom the thatch-roofed cottages to Paddy, the traveling piper to the generous hospitality of neighbors, The Cottage at Bantry Bay paints a stunning portrait of the Ireland of yesteryear. It is here that we are introduced to the remarkable O’Sullivan family of County Cork, Ireland. Though they lack monetary wealth, they are rich in faith and love. Like all of Hilda van Stockum’s books, your whole family will enjoy this story. Everyone is bound to relate to one of the four O’Sullivan children. There is sweet, quiet Brigid who is always willing to help Mother, steadfast and studious Michael and the twins, Francie and Liam, both with hearts of gold that are all too often overshadowed by their many “adventures.” Mother O’Sullivan certainly has her hands full with the lot of them! Go along with Brigid and Michael as they travel the weary roads through the Kerry mountains or with Francie and Liam as they bravely face Clementine, Mrs. Flaherty’s mean-spirited cow or with Bran, the dog, to find hidden treasure! (Ages 10+, 239 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Francie on the Run
By Hilda van Stockum

Francie on the Run eBook -65% OffFrancie is sent to the Orthopedic Hospital in Dublin far away from his family and friends, but in typical Francie style, the young boy quickly meets new friends everywhere he goes. Sick of being in the hospital and being treated like a “babby” by the nurses, the young adventurer sets out for home all on his own. Along the way, Francie meets some extraordinary characters including Mrs. McDermot in the castle, Ireland’s famed little people (fairies), kind Father Kelly and Pegeen. Francie journeys all over the country learning the different customs and legends of each region. Will Francie ever reach home or will he be taken back to the lonely hospital ward? (Ages 10+, 293 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Pegeen
By Hilda van Stockum

Pegeen eBook - 65% OffAfter her Grannie dies, Pegeen stays with Francie’s family while Father Kelly tries to locate her American uncle. With Michael away at school, Mother O’Sullivan couldn’t be happier having another child around, but she soon finds out Pegeen is not a very quiet addition. Poor Pegeen, no matter what she does, it always
comes out wrong, but it’s never her fault! The young orphan manages to upset everyone in the O’Sullivan family, each time
concocting another tale to place the blame anywhere but on her! As the weeks go by, however, Pegeen slowly becomes a part of the family when a letter arrives from New York. Will Pegeen have to leave her new family or will Uncle Dan let her stay in Ireland? (Ages 10+, 266 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

The Borrowed House
By Hilda von Stockum

The Borrowed House eBook - 62% Off!Janna Oster is a proud, young German girl living near the Black Forest during World War II. With her famous parents entertaining in Holland, Janna is all alone and turns to the Hitler Youth group where she was taught to never question the authority of Hitler, the supremacy of the Aryan race and to view the Jewish race as inferior. Janna’s life is turned upside down when her parents summon her to Holland. It is there that the young girl begins to question the validity of Hitler’s teachings and begins to realize that no one deserves the cruel treatment being shown. (221 pages, Ages 14+ File Type: EPUB)

The Winged Watchman
By Hilda von Stockum

The Winged Watchman eBookThis is a great historical fiction of WWII—rich in suspense, characterization, plot and spiritual truth. A story of courage and hope in occupied Holland: a hidden Jewish child, an “underdiver”, a downed RAF pilot, an imaginative, daring underground hero, and the small thing of family life which surprisingly carry on in the midst of oppression. An inspiring story of those who suffer, but do not lose faith! (.epub, 191 pages, Gr 5+ $)

We carry copies of these books in ebook format as they are inexpensive and easy for mom or dad to use as a read aloud but to build our family library we suggest purchasing the paperback books from Bethlehem Books, who is continually looking for these kinds of treasures and holds a high standard when choosing books that inspire and edify a child’s imagination.

Beauty surrounds the Feast of the Annunciation

Paolo_de_Matteis_-_The_AnnunciationThe Feast of the Annunciation is a beloved feast day for it is the day we rejoice in Mary’s YES!  It only stands to reason that we and the Church rejoice as it is the day that the “Word was made Flesh!”  There was a very dear priest in our diocese, one of those rare individuals who inspired countless people with his unwavering trust in Divine Providence…even in the most difficult and trying situations he reminded us to trust. He loved the Blessed Mother and like her was transformed by his YES to a life in service to God and in turn transformed all of us!  Everyone prayed that he would live to celebrate his 100th birthday, but he actually died just a few short hours of the day. However, nine months earlier he would cheerfully and enthusiastically remind all of us that indeed he was already 100 years old since he counted his age from the time of his conception in his mother’s womb. What a testimony to all of us as to the sanctity of life in the womb, the unborn! Today is no ordinary day but a great day to pause from our day to day routines and take time to celebrate this momentous event in all our lives!

“In families with young children, this feast would be a good time to begin teaching youngsters important lessons about the inestimable value God places on human life. 

Mary with baby JesusFirst, that He loved us so much that He chose to become one of us — to take on our humanity so completely that he “became flesh”, as utterly weak and dependent as any human infant is.   Second, God became “like us in all things except sin” at the moment of His conception in Mary’s womb, not at some later time.  The Feast of the Annunciation is a celebration of the actual Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Children may, quite naturally, think that the birth of Jesus is the time when Our Savior first ‘became Man,’ especially since Christmas has become the Christian holiday in our culture.  We understand best what we can see, what is visible.  The invisible, the hidden is, no less real for our lack of seeing it.  (We think of the baby in its mother’s womb, known and felt, though unseen, only to her.)

Even very young children can know the truth about the growth of a baby inside its mother’s body, especially If the mother of the family (or an aunt, perhaps) happens to be pregnant on the holiday.  The exactly nine months’ wait from March 25th to December 25th for the Baby to be born would be interesting to most children.  (God made no special rules for His own bodily development!) What better way than reading the first chapter of Luke to gently begin teaching children about the beginning of each new human life?

Children should be told how important it is to every person that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1), and parents can find this feast a valuable teaching moment. 

teaching-youth-religious-values.jpg.crop_displayThe Catechism of the Catholic Church on Article 3 of the Creed, “He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary” (#436-511), should be read by parents.  This will not only give adults a timely review of Catholic doctrine, but it can be a great help to us in transmitting important truths of the faith to our children.  The summary at the end can help formulate points we want to emphasize. Excerpts from the Catechism  could be read aloud to older children.” (http://www.ewtn.com/library/FAMILY/MARCH25.TXT)

In hope of inspiring you to pause from your regular curriculum may I suggest the following:

You can begin with the prayers associated with Mary and her Fiat, the Angelus, the Magnificat  and an Annunciation prayer too! (http://www.marypages.com/Annunciation.htm).  Over the centuries these same prayers inspired lovely Classical  pieces of music.  As I started to research them, I had no idea of the veritable wealth of music giving Glory to unborn Christ Child. Do plan on spending your quiet time today listening to this beautiful music and hear the joy!

William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_Song_of_the_Angels_(1881)_edit

The Magnificat, Canticle of Mary, Song of Mary, Latin Hymn, Daughters of Mary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9QtEb8XNr4

Bach – Magnificat in D major, BWV 243 : Harnoncourthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oL_qsKPeik

Antonio Vivaldi – Magnificat in G Minor RV  610:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDQREd7Ahys

MOZART Vesperae de Dominica, KV 321 – [6] Magnificat KOOPMAN:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuOT1LMFIQA

Franz Schubert – Magnificat in C major, D486:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itQNbtXXhzE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can also see that this momentous event also inspired much artwork. Three years ago Larry and I found a gorgeous rendition of the Annunciation by the artist Jan Van Eyck on our 25th Wedding Anniversary, or should I say it found us, as a reminder of our YES to each other and to God. It is currently at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, a trip we will have to make soon to see the original! Today you can explore the work here where you can take a closer look and explore its symbolism: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.46.html?opensection=overview

And that is not the only image of the Annunciation, visit these sites to gaze at all the beauty. The following sites have a multitude of beautiful Classical artwork to share with your family:

http://www.abcgallery.com/L/leonardo/leonardo36.html (Leonardo Da Vinci The Annunciation.  Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy)

http://www.abcgallery.com/B/botticelli/botticelli34.html (Sandro Boticelli Cestello Annunciation Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy)

http://www.abcgallery.com/virgin.html#Annunciation (many other masterpieces)

For your younger set I found several coloring pages that you can print whereby they grant copyright permission  to print and use any original material or ideas for individual or classroom use.

Crayones de cera

Coloring pages:

This site has about 10 different images to choose from different sources: http://printablecolouringpages.co.uk/?s=the+annunciation

This one comes to us compliments from the parish church in Front Royal Virginia St. John the Baptist Catholic Church where we just went last weekend! http://www.sjtb.org/images/Annunciation.pdf

Here is a simple outline coloring page for the littlest ones:http://www.sermons4kids.com/mary_angel_colorpg.htm

For a bit of fun here are pictures that the kids can color on-line, changing the colors and printing off the version they like best! : http://www.supercoloring.com/pages/annunciation

http://www.thecolor.com/Coloring/simone-martini-the-annunciation.aspx

Be certain to end the day with a delicious meal or special dessert.  My favorite cookbook, A Continual Feast has a Swedish Waffles recipe where the author explains that in Europe beginning around the twelfth century waffles were generally eaten on feast days and most certainly on the Feast of the Annunciation. You can use your own special recipe or this one:

Swedish Waffles (A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz)

swedish waffles

1 3/4 cups heavy cream, well-chilled
1 1/3 cups flour
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold water
3 tablespoons melted sweet butter

Whip the cream until stiff.  Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the water to make a smooth batter. Fold the whipped cream into the batter. Stir in the melted butter.

Heat the waffle iron. (If it is well seasoned, it will not need to be greased.) Fill the grid surface about two-thirds full of batter. Bake until golden brown.

Place on a rack to keep crisp while you make the rest of the waffles.

Yield: about 8 waffles

Emmanuel Books Holy Week & Easter Activity Kit

As the local stores fill up with Easter Bunnies and jelly beans, now is the perfect time to restore the sacredness of Holy Week and Easter.  We have researched and designed this easy to use and beautiful curriculum that will become a family favorite each year!

This kit contains faith-filled  hands-on projects that make a lasting impact on the true meaning of Holy Week and Easter. Your family will lean about:

  • Holy Week Kit email 3Resurrection Eggs, (to learn the Passion though the Resurrection Bible story),
  • A Jonah project (make Jonah, the whale and his ship and have the children decorate them and move the figures through Holy Week),
  • A sticker sheet with faithful, Catholic symbolism that truly represent the Holy Season of Easter
  • Instructions and template to make a Family Pascal Candle
  • Beautiful Easter Holy Cards to share with family and friends and practice handwriting skills
  • Notebooking pages with beautiful reverent holy images
  • Mini books of the colors of Easter and mini books for the flowers, fruit and trees associated with Easter along with pictures and descriptions of each
  • Several options for making a variety of Easter cards (4 unique designs with text and blank versions too!)

The Power of Prayer

st_therese_of_lisieux“For me, prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting up one’s eyes, quite simply, to heaven, a cry of grateful love, from the crest of joy or the trough of despair; it’s a vast, supernatural force which opens out my heart, and binds me close to Jesus.” – St. Therese of Lisieux

Lately I have been re-reading St. Therese’s autobiography The Story of a Soul and had just finished her beautiful chapter on prayer, where the above quote comes from. Since Lent is rapidly approaching I thought about concentrating and focusing on prayer as this year’s family Lenten devotion, for God calls us to prayer, it is a “vital and personal relationship with the living and true God” (CCC, no. 2558).

FullSizeRenderSo this week we began to make prayer journals. It is my hope that this becomes the springboard for our family to come to a deeper understanding of prayer and in so doing increase and deepen our individual prayer lives.  We began with a blank book and divided the pages into five sections for the five basic ways of praying: Adoration, Petition, Intercession, Thanksgiving and Praise.  Each section will be a personal journey this Lent, utilizing the five paths, adding formal prayers, Scripture verses, prayers and litanies of the saints, lists of the people we promise to pray for and their intentions, a place where we can write down and reflect upon our crests of joy and troughs of sorrow. After all,  “The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. …..the family is the ‘domestic church’ where God’s children learn to pray ‘as in the Church’ and to persevere in prayer.” (CCC, no. 2558)

So far we have experienced, quite nicely, vocal prayer but we really haven’t explored the other MotherTeresatwo expressions of prayer, meditation and contemplation.  Perhaps giving time to our family for true reflection will help us to make it our own and discover our hearts moving towards the One who longs to hear from us.  But most importantly we will make time for true silence and time for Eucharistic Adoration, for God speaks to our souls “…In the silence of the heart God will speak.” ( Mother Teresa, The Power of Prayer)