• Lauren

Liturgical Living for Busy Families in July


It's hard to believe, but July is upon us already!


The month of July is dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus, and the Church uses this time to focus on understanding the magnitude of sin - sin that required the blood of God, Himself, to cleanse us. There are some wonderful saints whose feasts are celebrated this month who can aid us in this understanding - namely St. Maria Goretti, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. Ignatius. The Church also honors a number of other inspiring saints this month that can help us along our own paths to sainthood, and while most of my celebratory suggestions are geared towards young families, there are several ways this month for adults to grow deeper in our faith through liturgical living that I've included below. After all, liturgical living isn't just for childhood, it's for life!


Saints of July:

  • July 1 - St. Junipero Serra

  • July 3 - St. Thomas the Apostle

  • July 6 - St. Maria Goretti

  • July 11 - St. Benedict

  • July 14 - St. Kateri

  • July 16 - Our Lady of Mount Carmel

  • July 22 - St. Mary Magdalene

  • July 25 - St. James

  • July 26 - Sts. Joachim and Anne

  • July 29 - St. Martha

  • July 31 - St. Ignatius

There are a TON of other wonderful saints celebrated this month (St. Augustus Tolton, St. Sharbel, St. Veronica, St. Margaret of Antioch, St. Elizabeth of Portugal, St. Bonaventure, and St. Christopher, just to name a few!) so let me know in the comments if there's a favorite saint or activity that I missed! Happy feasting!


July 1 - St. Junipero Serra


St. Junipero Serra was a Franciscan friar, widely regarded as a professor of philosophy in Spain, who is best known for his missionary work among the Native Americans in Mexico and the southwest United States. Over the course of his life and traveling mainly by foot, he founded 21 California missions!


In honor of St. Junipero's missionary zeal, today is a wonderful day to talk about the value of everyday evangelization with your children. Spreading the message of the Gospel isn't just reserved for priests and missionaries in exotic lands, or even just for adults, it's for all of us, regardless of age or state of life (see CCC 1141, 1547). We, as the laity, live out our share in Christ's priesthood best when we live lives of faith, hope, and charity, allowing friends and family to see Jesus shine through us by our every thought, word, and deed. It's a good reminder for our children (and for ourselves) that it's the little, consistent acts of love that do great things!


I also recently ordered a lovely children's book on the life of St. Junipero that is filled with information that the children and I will be enjoying on his feast day. For the adults in your household, celebrate St. Junipero with a classic gin and tonic (juniper being the main ingredient of gin, of course!).


July 3 - St. Thomas the Apostle


St. Thomas was one of the original twelve apostles who walked with Jesus and also happened to be a twin. Perhaps sadly, poor Thomas is best known as "Doubting Thomas" as a result of the following Gospel account following Christ's resurrection:


Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” // John 20:24-29

Today, read this account in the Gospel as a family or listen to a retelling on the Saint Stories for Kids Podcast Ep. 26 by Shining Light Dolls. Take some time to discuss doubt. We often think of doubt as a bad thing, but when used properly, doubt can truly be a gift that strengthens our faith by causing us to continue our search and delve deeper into Christ and His Church. Doubt is a feeling most of us will likely face with respect to some aspect of our faith at some point in our lives, so this is a wonderful time to talk to kids about good ways to deal with doubt: talking to trusted spiritual advisers, consulting the Catechism, reading the scripture. It's okay to ask questions, and it's also okay to not have all the answers at the ready, so long as we know where and whom to turn to. Close out your family discussion by praying an Act of Faith together.


July 6 - St. Maria Goretti


St. Maria Goretti is a saint whose story may require some delicacy in discussing with younger children, but she is a saint well worth knowing. In 1902, Maria, the nearly 12-year old daughter of a poor Italian tenant farmer was attacked and brutally raped at knife point by her 18-year old neighbor, Alessandro. During the attack, she seemed to fear more for her assailant's spiritual safety in committing such a crime than her own physical safety, imploring him to remember it was a sin against God that would send him to hell. She died at the hospital from the wounds she received less than 24 hours later, but not before forgiving Alessandro. Alessandro was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his crime, for a long time unrepentant. One night, however, he had a dream of Maria gathering flowers and offering them to him. This dream changed him forever, and upon his release, his first act of freedom was to go to Maria's mother and beg her forgiveness. When Pope Pius XII canonized Maria in 1947, Alessandro was there, crying tears of joy.


Maria Goretti's story is one of heroic forgiveness. While we venerate the Precious Blood during the month of June, we can reflect with St. Maria Goretti on the transformative power of this type of forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness Our Lord freely offers us daily. The wounds Maria suffered at the hands of Alessandro are no different from the wounds we inflict upon Christ every time we sin, and yet still our Savior waits for us, offering us flowers and a new life.


Today, take some time to think about the people in your life you may need to forgive - maybe you even need to forgive yourself for something. If you're struggling with resentments, ask St. Maria Goretti for help in forgiving the person. Talk to your children about the power of forgiveness. As a family, pray an Act of Reparation to the Precious Blood.


July 11 - St. Benedict


St. Benedict is known as the "Father of Western Monasticism" and is famous for creating the Rule of St. Benedict, a daily rhythm of prayer, study, and manual labor, used in the majority of religious communities throughout the Middle Ages, aptly summed up by the phrase "ora et labora" or, "prayer and work." St. Benedict was also the twin brother of another famous saint, St. Scholastica! The medal of St. Benedict also plays an important role in the Rite of Exorcism, so he is an excellent saint to invoke against any evils.


Today, learn about St. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica on the Saint Stories for Kids Podcast Ep. 27, and color the page on St. Benedict from the Lazy Liturgical Growing Bundle! Alternatively, take find or look up an image of the St. Benedict medal and talk about its use and symbolism with your children. Perhaps even draw your own medals!


July 14 - St. Kateri Tekakwitha


St. Kateri Tekakwitha is sometimes referred to as the "Lily of the Mohawks" and was the first American Indian to be canonized! She was the daughter of an Algonquin mother and a Mohawk father and lived in what is today upstate New York. She survived the smallpox epidemic that claimed the lives of her parents as well as numerous attacks on her village from French and enemy tribes. Catechized by Jesuit missionaries, she converted and was baptized at age 20. She died at age 24, and her last words were "Jesus, I love you!"


A fun way to celebrate the day would be with a Mohawk inspired dinner of grilled fish and Mohawk cornbread! Lacy from Catholic Icing also has a fun and easy "How to Draw St. Kateri" video on her website.


July 16 - Our Lady of Mount Carmel


Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patron saint of the Carmelite Order, a religious order founded in the 12th century whose tradition is purportedly rooted as far back as Elijah on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. According to tradition, Our Lady of Mount Carmel gave St. Simon Stock (feast day May 16) the Brown Scapular in the 13th century. You can read more about the Brown Scapular here. Have some fun today by making your own scapulars with the children (you can use brown paper bags or felt if you have it!) and treat yourself to Caramel Brownies!


July 22 - St. Mary Magdalene


Saint Mary Magdalene holds a special place in my heart as she is my confirmation saint! She played a huge role in Jesus's ministry. After Jesus delivered her from seven demons (Mark 16:9), she became a disciple (Luke 8:1-3), following Him with His Mother even to the very foot of the cross, when all others fled. Sometimes referred to as the "Apostle to the Apostles," she was the first to see Jesus following His resurrection and tell the other disciples. John 19:25-30 and 20:1-18.


Over the millennia, she has sometimes been conflated with Mary of Bethany (the sister of Lazarus) and the unnamed sinful woman who anointed Jesus's feet. I don't think that Mary Magdalene, however, would mind. Rather, she would affirm the truth that Jesus can redeem even the very worst sinners among us, raising them up from spiritual death to the highest heights of heaven. As the patron saint of penitent sinners, Mary Magdalene is a particularly excellent intercessor during the month of July in venerating the Precious Blood.


In art, Mary Magdalene is often represented with a red egg. According to tradition, following Jesus's death and resurrection, she was invited to a feast of the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Upon asserting Jesus's rising from the dead, the Emperor scoffed at Mary Magdalene and said that His rising from the dead was as likely as the white boiled egg on the table turning red. As he spoke, the egg turned red! To commemorate this story for St. Mary Magdalene's feast day, listen to Saint Stories for Kids Podcast Ep. 66 and dye some eggs red the old fashioned way with onion skins!


July 25 - St. James the Greater


St. James the Greater is another of the apostles and is the brother of John. Together they were known as the "sons of thunder." This particular St. James is known as "the Greater" to distinguish him from St. James the Lesser, the other apostle named James who was actually Jesus's cousin. St. James the Greater was one of the three apostles present at the Transfiguration (along with Peter and his brother John) and at Jesus's Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He eventually attained the crown of martyrdom via beheading in Jerusalem at the hands of King Herod Agrippa.


St. James is frequently depicted with a scallop seashell, and the source of the symbolism is subject to the debate of multiple myths, some more fantastic than others. The scallop shell is also the symbol of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where St. James preached for a time following the resurrection. It is said that Our Lady appeared atop a pillar to St. James there on the banks of the Erbo River (and it is there, in Zaragoza Spain, where the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is located). After his death in Jerusalem, St. James's body was transported back to Spain. The scallop seashells now line the way along the road to Santiago, the lines on the shell symbolizing the pilgrims' journeys, each converging at his tomb.


To celebrate today, any craft with seashells would be great fun, and if you live near the beach, a seashell hunt would be even better. For dinner, serve scallops or shuck some oysters!


July 26 - Sts. Joachim and Anne


Ancient tradition names the Blessed Virgin Mary's parents as Joachim and Anne. While we do not know much about them, we can safely assume they were very holy and wonderful people, for just as certainly as God chose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus, God also chose Joachim and Anne to be His grandparents. As the grandparents of Jesus, today is a wonderful day to celebrate our own grandparents! If travel (and pandemic) permit, visit grandparents or have them over for a meal. Make them cards if they do not live nearby, or pull out old family albums and talk about the previous generations. Today is also a good day to read the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:1-17) and talk with your children about how God works through families and how His hand can be seen clearly through every generation. Talk about what this means for your own family and how God is shaping and directing your own domestic church.


July 29 - St. Martha


Martha, the sister of Lazarus and Mary of Bethany, is probably best known for the somewhat less than flattering story told in Luke 10:28-32:


As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha, however, was also a woman of great faith. After the death of her brother Lazarus, Martha professed her deep faith in Jesus, saying "Lord,if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” John 11:21. The entirety of John Chapter 11 is worth reading today to give us a sense of how deeply Jesus loved this family.


Today, honor St. Martha by hosting a mini dinner party (even if it's just for your family!). Break out the nice china, cook a fancier meal, and set an extra place for Jesus at your table.


July 31 - St. Ignatius


St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in Spain and originally entered the army, where he was injured in battle. While recovering, he read books on the lives of Christ and the saints and was so profoundly impacted that he experienced a total conversion, dedicating his life to Christ and thereafter making a pilgrimage and spending many hours in prayer. He wrote The Spiritual Exercises and founded the Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuits). You can learn more about St. Ignatius with the Saint Stories for Kids Podcast Ep. 30.


One of the best known techniques from The Spiritual Exercises is the daily Examen, where you prayerfully reflect on your day. While there are many variations, a simple five step process adapted from St. Ignatius's writings is to 1. become aware of God's presence, 2. review the day with gratitude, 3. pay attention to your emotions as you reflect on the day, 4. choose one feature from the day and pray on it, and 5. look toward tomorrow with God. By doing this, you can, with time, learn to hear God better, see His hand in your daily life, and discern His direction and will for you. There is also a simple 5-finger daily examen for children activity here.

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