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  • Writer's pictureLauren

Liturgical Living for Busy Families in August

Happy August, friends! The school year is upon us, and schedules tend to get more structured with the end of the summer break. With the children (hopefully) returning to school and extracurricular activities, now is a great time to start working some liturgical living into your family's schedule! Since liturgical living can sometimes appear overwhelming to those with already busy schedules or those who are new to the practice, I try to keep the celebratory ideas suggested in this series of posts very simple and, more often than not, free. Liturgical living doesn't need to be big or fancy, it's simply making the intentional effort to become more aware of the rhythms and history of the Church and her liturgy in our daily lives in order to avail ourselves ever more deeply of her sacramental graces. You also don't need to feel pressured to celebrate all of the days listed, or even most! Just pick a few that appeal to you, and have fun with it.

In this post, I offer ideas for celebrating the following feast days, as well as devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary throughout the month:

  • August 4 - St. Jean-Marie Vianney

  • August 6 - The Transfiguration of Our Lord

  • August 8 - St. Dominic

  • August 10 - St. Lawrence of Rome

  • August 11 - St. Clare of Assisi and St. Philomena

  • August 12 - St. Jane Frances de Chantal

  • August 14 - St. Maximilian Kolbe

  • August 15 - The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  • August 22 - The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

  • August 23 - St. Rose of Lima and St. Zacchaeus

  • August 27 - St. Monica

  • August 28 - St. Augustine

  • August 29 - The Passion of St. John the Baptist

Have a saint or activity I missed? Let me know in the comments! Happy feasting!

Devotion of the Month: The Immaculate Heart of Mary

The month of August is dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Catholic devotion to Mary is without a doubt one of the most misunderstood aspects of the Catholic faith, particularly among non-Catholics, but also among Catholics themselves! Since Mary is a creature, her physical heart is venerated, whereas the Sacred Heart of Jesus is adored or worshiped. Occasionally this word choice can cause our Protestant brothers and sisters some heartburn, but veneration is extremely different from adoration and worship. To venerate simply means to regard with great respect or to revere, whereas to adore and worship is to give the praise and honor due God alone as the Creator.

When we venerate, or show respect to, Mary's Immaculate Heart, we acknowledge that her heart is pure and spotless, free from original sin, therefore allowing her to be in perfect union with God. From this perfect union, the Word was able to spring forth as flesh. This perfection was not something Mary achieved or earned on her own, of course, but a grace conferred upon her by God at the moment of her conception. She still needed a Savior, but her salvation was effected "in advance," so to speak, in order that God's ultimate salvific plan for all mankind might come to fruition.

Because of her total union with God, Mary shares not only in Christ's joys, but also in His sufferings in a unique way. Thus, the grief our sins cause her Son also affect her deeply. During the month of August, we can make reparation to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts by striving to live as Mary did - in humility and total dependence upon God, consistently working to detach ourselves from the things of this world and pondering Him constantly in our hearts.

Taking up the practice of a praying a daily rosary, spending time in adoration or praying before the Tabernacle, praying the Little Office of the Virgin Mary, attending mass on the first Saturday of the month, or doing a Marian consecration are beautiful ways to deepen your devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary this month. For kids, just scale it down - have them pray one Hail Mary a day or do a Marian Consecration for Children (I love this one by Carrie Gress!).

There are also tons of craft and food ideas for the Sacred Heart that can easily be adapted for the Immaculate Heart on Lacy's Catholic Icing blog, including Immaculate Heart tie-dye shirts, cupcakes and cookies, heart-shaped decade rosaries made out of pipe-cleaners, and paper bag puppets! This past June my family made Sacred Heart "stain glass" sun-catchers out of tissue paper and sticky contact paper, and we also made Sacred Hearts out of perler beads, which could also be easily adapted for the Immaculate Heart.

August 4 - St. Jean-Marie Vianney

St. Jean-Marie Vianney was born in 1786 in France during the height of the Reign of Terror. During this time, priests were forced to work in secrecy and faced execution if discovered. In young Jean's mind, these men were true heroes. He made his first communion and confirmation in secrecy, and his education was frequently interrupted due to the French Revolution. With the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, however, (in whose army Jean served briefly), religious freedom was established once again, and Jean finally finished his studies and became a priest. He was a great advocate of prayer, fasting, reconciliation, and penance, hearing confessions for up to 11 hours a day, and he was instrumental in bringing the faith alive again in France after the decades of terror and suppression caused by the French Revolution. He also had a deep devotion to St. Philomena, another saint celebrated this month.

Today, pray for our priests as a family and make homemade cards thanking them for all they do and sacrifice for us. They really are heroes!

August 6 - The Transfiguration of Our Lord

The Transfiguration commemorates one of the major events in Christ's life, when Jesus led Peter, James the Greater, and James's brother John up Mount Tabor. There, He was suddenly transfigured, His face shining like the sun. Moses and Elijah appeared there with Him, signifying to the disciples present that Jesus was the fulfillment of both the law and the prophets. A bright cloud covered them, and a voice from within the cloud spoke, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!”

Today, read the account of the Transfiguration in Matthew 17 and take some time to pray the fourth luminous mystery of the Rosary as a family. Last year, the children and I "transfigured" some heavy cream into whipped cream as part of a dessert. This year, we will also be doing one of these cute and easy Transfiguration crafts! There is also a cartoon and Sunday school lesson for children on the Transfiguration on YouTube, here.

August 8 - St. Dominic

St. Dominic was born in Caleruega, Spain in 1170 to noble parents. According to legend, when St. Dominic was still in his mother's womb, she reportedly heard barking noises, as though a little leaping dog was within her! His family took it as a sign that he was destined to be an amazing preacher and named him Dominic, possibly a play on the Latin words Domini canis (dog of the Lord). St. Dominic battled many heresies of the day and converted many through his preaching and works of mercy. He went on to found the Dominican Order, an order known for producing outstanding preachers. St. Dominic is also credited for spreading devotion to the Rosary, and legend has it that Our Lady appeared to St. Dominic and gave him the first Rosary.

Since the Dominican habit is black and white, today is a great day for snacking on some Oreo cookies and praying a family Rosary! He is also the patron saint of astronomers, so plan on some backyard stargazing! 

August 10 - St. Lawrence of Rome

St. Lawrence of Rome was born in the third century in Spain and went on to serve Pope St. Sixtus II in Rome as one of the city's seven deacons. In this position, he was placed in charge of the Church's material goods and the distribution of alms to the poor. During the persecution of Christians by Roman Emperor Valerian, Pope Sixtus II was executed. A Roman official vowed to spare St. Lawrence's life if he would turn over the Church's treasures to the Emperor. In response, St. Lawrence presented the official with the poor people of Rome, saying,"Behold in these poor persons the treasures which I promised to show you; to which I will add pearls and precious stones, those widows and consecrated virgins, which are the Church's crown."

The prefect was so incensed that he ordered St. Lawrence to be executed immediately on a gridiron placed over a bed hot coals. According to legend, after suffering on the gridiron for some time, St. Lawrence cheerfully declared: "I'm well done on this side. Turn me over!"As such, he is the patron saint of cooks and comedians!

The Feast of St. Lawrence is the perfect occasion for a (properly socially distanced) bar-b-que (take out is also totally acceptable in my book) and to host a comedy hour or watch some familiy-friendly sitcoms or old comedies.

August 11 - St. Clare of Assisi and St. Philomena

St. Clare was born into a wealthy family of nobles in the 12th century. After hearing a sermon by St. Francis of Assisi, however, she gave up her life of finery, cutting off her beautiful hair and donning the simple robe and veil of the Poor Clares. She is often depicted holding a monstrance, as she is said to have faced down the army of Frederick II alone and armed with nothing but the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance when he attacked Assisi. The army was seized by fear and fled, leaving Assisi unharmed. The Saint Stories for Kids Podcast also has an interesting episode on the connection between St. Clare of Assisi and the modern television in Episode 31! The Catholic Inspired Blog also has a cute monstrance craft.

Today is also the Feast of St. Philomena, an early Christian martyr whose tomb can be found in the Catacombs of Priscilla on the Via Salaria Nova in Rome with three tiles reading "Peace be to you, Philomena." According to legend, she was a beautiful Greek princess whose father converted to Christianity. She took a vow of virginity, but when her father took his family to Rome to make peace, the Roman Emperor Diocletian fell in love with Philomena. She refused to marry him, so he had her scourged, drowned with an anchor attached to her, and shot with arrows. Each time she was attacked angels took to her side and healed her through prayer. Finally, the Emperor had Philomena decapitated. Two anchors, three arrows, a palm symbol of martyrdom, and a flower were found on the tiles in her tomb, interpreted as symbols of her martyrdom.

Today would be a good time to talk about symbols in iconography and what they tell us about the saints depicted. There is a wonderful guide to Christian Iconography put together by a professor emeritus of medieval history, here, and a simpler history of iconography, here. You could even have the children draw icons depicting themselves as the saints they hope to become one day!

August 12 - St. Jane Frances de Chantal

In France in 1601, Jane, who had already lost her mother at a very young age and later her stepmother, her sister, and two of her own children, tragically lost her husband in a hunting accident. Although her husband forgave the man prior to his death, Jane struggled for years to forgive him, falling into deep despair and spiritual dryness. She eventually met St. Frances de Sales, and he became her spiritual director. She continued to courageously fight the poison of resentment and eventually was able to forgive the man who killed her husband so completely that she became the godmother to his child. Under the direction of St. Frances de Sales, she also founded an institute of women known as the Nuns of the Visitation.

Over the years, St. Jane and St. Frances exchanged many letters encouraging, advising, and uplifting one another. Today would be a great day to write an old fashioned letter to a friend! The Saint Stories for Kids Podcast also has a lovely episode about the friendship between St. Jane Frances de Chantal and St. Frances de Sales in Episode 3!

August 14 - St. Maximilian Kolbe

St. Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan priest born in 1894. When he was only 12, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him in a vision, holding two crowns: one red and one white. "She asked me if I was willing to accept either of these crowns. The white one meant that I should persevere in purity and the red that I should become a martyr. I said that I would accept them both."

St. Maximilian did, in fact, achieve both crowns. He won the white crown of purity through his ceaseless missionary zeal and devotion to the Virgin Mary, establishing the Militia Immaculata to promote consecration to her. He earned the red crown of martyrdom when, in 1941, he was murdered by Nazi soldiers at Auschwitz after volunteering to take the place of a man selected by the Nazis to be starved to death as a warning to prisoners attempting escape.

Paper Dali has a wonderful free printable coloring page for today that talks about St. Maximilian's red and white crowns, and I love the little pipe cleaner and safety pin craft featuring the two crowns from Katherine Bogner's Look to Him and Be Radiant blog! The Saint Stories for Kids Podcast also features a story about St. Maximilian Kolbe in Episode 32!

August 15 - The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Also known as the Dormition of Mary, this feast, established in the sixth century and declared dogma in 1950, celebrates the end of Mary's life here on earth and was assumed into Heaven. Unlike Jesus's Ascension, when he went into Heaven on His own power, Mary was "assumed" into Heaven through the power of the Lord. It is, like every event in Mary's life, a unique participation in the events of Christ's own life, in this case, His resurrection, and as such is an anticipation of the bodily resurrection anticipated by all Christians at the end of the age. Today is a Holy Day of Obligation, so make sure to get to Mass!

Traditionally celebrated as a summer harvest holiday, Christians of old would abstain from fruit the two weeks prior to the Assumption and celebrate the feast day with all manner of fruit dishes. In Italy, there is a custom of giving fruit baskets to friends and families on this day! Because of its association with the summer harvest, another traditional practice for today is the Blessing of the Herbs. Bring a sachet of herbs (homegrown or store bought!) to Mass for a blessing and use them in your cooking for later on - perhaps an herb roasted chicken or salad along side a bowl of fresh fruit - or dry them and use them in drawers or as decoration.

There is also an old tradition associating the day with Mary's special blessing of natural bodies of water, and in Ireland, England, and parts of Europe, Catholics will take a swim in the ocean, lakes, or streams in what is referred to as "Our Lady's Health Bathing." Superstition also held that the 30 days following the Assumption were also considered to be days of especial luck.

August 22 - The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Coronation, or Queenship, of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on the octave following the Assumption. We see hints of Mary's Queenship throughout the entire Bible, and Dr. Brant Pitre has a wonderful book detailing this called Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary for those who are interested.

Today, pray the fifth glorious mystery of the Rosary as a family, and perhaps have a royal tea party to celebrate! A Marian procession and a singing of the hymns Salve Regina or Regina Caeli followed by a crowning ceremony of a Mary statue in your home would also be a wonderful way to celebrate the Queen of Heaven and Earth today. One of my favorite children's books for today is Take it to the Queen. If you don't own the book, there is a wonderful YouTube reading, here!

August 23 - St. Rose of Lima and St. Zacchaeus

St. Rose of Lima was the first canonized saint of the Western hemisphere! She was born in Peru in 1586 and is said to have been so beautiful that she rubbed her face with cayenne to mar her beauty to discourage her parents from marrying her off. To help support her family, she sold beautiful roses from her family's garden and hand-stitched lace. To celebrate, Saint Stories for Kids Podcast has a story about St. Rose of Lima in Episode 33! Spending some time gardening would be another lovely way to celebrate today. St. Rose of Lima is also the patron saint against vanity, so today is a great day to talk to your children about what True Beauty looks like.

Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he! I can't talk about today's other saint, Zacchaeus, without that old childhood song popping into my head! Zacchaeus's sotry can be found in Luke 19. He was a tax collector, and hated by all, not only because of his wealth, but also because he had a reputation for cheating people of their hard-earned money! When Jesus visited the town of Jericho, Zacchaeus longed to catch a glimpse of Him but was so short, he couldn't see over the crowds. Determined, Zacchaeus climbed a nearby sycamore tree. Our Lord spied Zacchaeus there and called out, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." Zacchaeus climbed down and joyfully welcomed the Lord into his home, causing many to grumble about Jesus dining with sinners.

Today, read the story of Zacchaeus as a family, and check out this adorable craft from Catholic Icing!

August 27 and 28 - St. Monica and St. Augustine

St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, is celebrated the day before her son's feast on August 27 and 28, respectively. Born in North Africa to a devout mother and a pagan father, St. Augustine spent his youth in pursuit of pleasure, having both a mistress and a child out of wedlock, and became well-known in the skills of debate and rhetoric. His mother fasted and prayed for his conversion ceaselessly for over 17 years, following him about the Roman empire as he traveled and "watering the earth with her tears." In her sorrow, she consulted her local bishop, and the bishop replied: “It is not possible that the son of so many tears should perish. Your son will be saved.” He was right.

Finally, at the age of 31, St. Augustine heard a childlike voice telling him to "Take up and rad; take up and read." He began to read the Bible and listen to the sermons of St. Ambrose. A year later, both he and his son, Adeodatus, were baptized, to St. Monica's great joy. St. Augustine wrote an incredible number of works on the faith, the most famous of which is his autobiography, Confessions. He is considered one of the greatest minds in all of Christian history and is a doctor of the Church.

To celebrate these two feast days, any dish of North African origin would be appropriate (think chicken tagine or couscous) and anything salty to represent St. Monica's tears (salted . St. Augustine is also the patron saint of brewers, which is ironic, as St. Monica is the patron saint of alcoholics, so enjoy a beer or root beer today! A big family or neighborhood game of hide and seek would also be fun, to represent St. Monica's continued search for her son! If you or your parish have a Formed subscription, there is also a wonderful children's cartoon on St. Augustine, here!

August 29 - The Passion of St. John the Baptist

St. John the Baptist is one of the few saints to have more than one feast day on the calendar! We celebrated his birth in June, and today we remember his death. The forerunner to the Messiah, St. John spent his life preaching the gospel of repentance, never shirking from the Truth that made many, and particularly the rich and powerful, uncomfortable.

It came to a head (no pun intended) when St. John refused to accept the marriage of King Herod Antipas to Herodias, who's still living first husband was Herod's brother. The story gets weirder as Herodias, infuriated by St. John's speaking out against the marriage, encouraged her daughter to preform a dance at King Herod's birthday feast (I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume it wasn't a sweet, modest ballet-type dance, either). King Herod was so enthralled by her dancing that he promised her anything she wanted, up to half his kingdom! Goaded by her mother, she asked for St. John the Baptist's head on a platter. King Herod was greatly distressed, but not wishing to lose face in front of his nobles, he ordered the execution.

This Feast Day is a constant source of great fascination for my children, as the Catholic Children's Picture Bible has a very lifelike depiction of St. John's head on platter. To celebrate, read Mark 6:14-28 (or any children's Bible retelling). Today would also be a good day to talk to your children about the virtue of courage and standing up for what is right, even if it means losing face in the eyes of the world. According to Kendra Tierney, some Eastern Catholics avoid platters, knives, and round foods on this day, or, true to Kendra form, Kendra's family has a tradition of serving a lettuce wraps for dinner, with a head of lettuce on a platter!

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