In the latter half of the last century there was a great decline in Catholic culture, and the great heritage of Catholicism handed down through millennia was largely put aside, resulting in the world becoming decidedly more secular and less well informed about why we do the things we do.
This is great shame because our Faith is so richly filled with beautiful feasts and traditions that not only teach and inspire us to be better, but also, very often, honor our heritage and provide for a lot of fun.
The Entire Mystery
Really observing and connecting to the liturgical year allows us to celebrate the entire mystery of Christ, from His Incarnation to His Ascension, from the founding of the Church at Pentecost to the anticipation of the final judgment on the Feast of Christ the King.
The Church also honors our Blessed Mother by observing solemnities that mark her participation in the salvation story.
There are also particular saints, who through their lives of holiness and sacrifice merit particular observance by the Church in an effort to lead us to a similar love of God and willingness to live His will.
This is all so beautiful and so well designed to appeal to our very human need for instruction and celebration. It is all to our good and very much worth our time as Catholics.
Just so we know what we are talking about, let us review the terms:
A solemnity is the greatest of feast days. All solemnities begin the night before with evening prayer and sometimes are assigned their own vigil Mass.
Solemnities celebrate an event in the life of Our Lord (e.g., the Resurrection), a mystery of the Faith (e.g., The Most Holy Trinity), or the Blessed Mother (e.g., Mary, Mother of God).
There are some saints whose feast days are also solemnities (St. Patrick, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Dominic, etc.) because the Church has concluded that they have lived lives of such exemplary holiness that their feast days merit a greater observance.
Feast day are days assigned by the Church to honor canonized saints and some events. With very few exceptions (The Feast of the Presentation being one), they do not begin the evening before.
These days are the celebrations where we can often include some great food and drink as well as song and dance that reflects the heritage of the saint. They can inspire creativity and fun in our homes and keep the Faith alive in a very real way for young children.
A memorial is the last classification. Memorials are governed by the liturgical season and are either obligatory or optional.
A Unique Opportunity
Homeschool families have a unique opportunity, and I might even say obligation, to keep the traditions of our Faith alive. To pass them down to our own children and encourage them to continue these observances in their own families someday.
We can also encourage our parish priest to reclaim some traditions that seem to have fallen away in so many parishes, such as the Corpus Christi procession which used to happen everywhere. Now, many people wishing to participate in this must sadly seek out a parish that still does it.
So with all that information, this is a great time of year to sit down and plan some feast day observances for your homeschool and create a vibrant Catholic culture in your home. October, which is fast approaching, has a very rich liturgical calendar and one that is very easy to celebrate with children.
October 2nd is the feast of the Guardian Angels. In the past we have celebrated this by going to daily Mass, having a dessert of Angel Food cake, making paper plate angels and reading My Guardian Angel and Angel in the Waters. Handwriting practice for that day will be copying the Guardian Angel prayer.
It’s simple, not too time consuming, fun and fruitful.
Other feasts in October include:
- October 1st, St. Therese of Lisieux
- October 4th, St. Francis of Assisi
- October 7th, The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
- October 15th, St. Teresa of Avila
- October 25th, The Feast of the Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ
- Ocotber 25th, St. Crispin (superseded this year by the Kingship)
- October 31st, All Hallows Eve
It is also worth noting that the entire month of October is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary and that each month has its own dedication as well as a papal prayer intention.
Resources for Planning
Some other resources for planning feast day celebrations:
- Shower of Roses Blog, Feasts and Seasons page (my very favorite resource)
- Catholic Icing, Liturgical Year Page (more for younger children)
- Tales from the Bonny Blue House, Feast Days Archive (full disclosure, this is my blog)
- By Sun and Candlelight Blog, Liturgical Seasons Page (great seasonal planning ideas)
Now I would like to make a point of advising you not to get too carried away. We could spend a lot of time planning and celebrating feast days because there are so many of them and there is a great value in spending this time; but, there is also school work to be done … and laundry … and cooking … you get the idea.
Pick one or two simple days to plan for in a month or season, and keep it close to home and easy, especially if you have very young children.
These days are meant to enhance your homeschool, not debilitate it with complicated and fussy ideas that drive you crazy. That’s why I like the above resources so much, because they are doable for a busy mom.
Over the next school year, I will share with you here our feast day celebrations and our monthly plans for them, hopefully to inspire you to create similar memories in your own home.
I also hope that you would be willing to share your ideas here in the comments as well as on our Facebook page because I would love to learn how you embrace the liturgical year, and it will certainly serve to freshen up my plans!
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Mary Photo CC Fr Lawrence Lew | Flickr