• Lauren

Liturgical Living for Busy Families in November

Welcome to November, friends! Although Halloween is over, don’t put away the skeleton décor just yet – it’s the Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory!


When I first became interested in liturgical living, I was struck anew by how secular society has rushed and commercialized so many Christian holidays, thereby stripping these Holy Days of their deeper spiritual meaning. Easter egg hunts begin during Lent and culminate on Easter Sunday, even though Easter Sunday is actually the first day of a 50-day Eastertide that lasts until Pentecost Sunday. When December rolls around, forget Advent - Christmas trees and lights spring up overnight the Friday after Thanksgiving (that is, if they aren’t brought out November 1!). By the time Christmas Day actually rolls around, everyone is holiday-ed out and in no mood to keep the festivities going through the Epiphany (the traditional 12 days of Christmas), let alone another 40 days until the Presentation of the Lord on February 2 (the actual Christmas season).


And so it is the same with Halloween. What should be an opportunity of memento mori, communing with the Saints in Heaven, and praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory beginning with the Feast of All Saints on November 1 and lasting throughout the entire month of November has now been completely secularized. Halloween’s actual function as All Hallows’ Eve has been turned into a night of tricks and treats, and society is moving on to Christmas before we’ve even spent any time thinking about the actual and original point of Halloween.

But not for us Catholics! For us, the fun is just beginning. So join me friends in praying all month long for the Holy Souls in Purgatory and celebrating a few of the wonderful saints

whose feasts are this month:

  • November 1 – All Saints

  • November 2 – All Souls

  • November 3 – St. Martin de Porres

  • November 5 – St. Elizabeth

  • November 8 – St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

  • November 10 – St. Leo the Great

  • November 11 – St. Martin de Tours

  • November 13 – St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

  • November 16 – St. Gertrude

  • November 17 – St. Elizabeth of Hungary

  • November 21 – Presentation of Mary

  • November 22 – Christ the King and St. Cecilia

  • November 23 – St. Clement I

  • November 25 – St. Catherine of Alexandria

  • November 28 – St. Catherine Laboure

  • November 29 – First Sunday of Advent

  • November 30 – St. Andrew

All Month Long – the Holy Souls in Purgatory


Purgatory is one of those Catholic beliefs that was really hard for me to understand during my conversion process. Because Protestants do not recognize the deuterocanonical books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, scripture references supporting the practice of praying for the dead aren’t as obvious, and for someone coming from a sola scriptura background, scripture references are often the only thing that “counts.” It wasn’t until I understood and accepted Sacred Tradition as equally authoritative that many Catholic teachings became clear, purgatory being one of them (and the ironic part is that once I understood and accepted Sacred Tradition, I then suddenly had a clearer scriptural basis for Purgatory, as well).


That said, the doctrine of Purgatory, simply stated, is the belief that all who die in God’s grace and friendship but remain imperfectly purified must go through a purification process before entering Heaven. The Church commends the practice of praying for the dead, above all offering masses for the dead, and almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on their behalf.[1] Since the Poor Souls cannot pray for themselves, these are especially generous spiritual works of mercy.


The Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Rosary, or St. Gertrude’s Prayer for the Poor Souls are all wonderful prayers to pray on behalf of your deceased loved ones this month. If you don’t already do so, consider adding the traditional Requiem Aeternam prayer to your grace before meals. My family also keeps a candle that we write the names of all our deceased loved ones and friends on that we light every day during the month of November, and we add pictures of them to our home altar.


There are also special plenary indulgences[2] available during November that can be applied to the souls in Purgatory. On All Souls’ Day (November 2) a plenary indulgence is available by praying for the dead in a church by reciting the Our Father and The Creed, and on November 1-8 a plenary indulgence is available each day for praying for the dead in a cemetery. You can also obtain a partial indulgence for the dead by praying in a cemetery any day of the year. The usual conditions for obtaining a plenary indulgence apply – namely:


  • You must be free from attachment to sin (even venial sin);

  • Offer prayers for the intention of the Holy Father (normally one Our Father and one Hail Mary for each indulgence sought, preferably on the day you perform the actions to obtain the indulgence);

  • Receive Holy Communion (for each indulgence sought and preferably on the day that you perform the actions to obtain the indulgence); and

  • Seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation (this can be done within 3 weeks before or after the actions to obtain the indulgence, and one confession can apply to many indulgences).

  • If any of the conditions are not met, the indulgence becomes partial rather than plenary. While these indulgences are typically only available during the first 8 days of November, this year (#because2020) they are available throughout the entire month of November!

To get in on the indulgence fun, I like to take the children for our “nature walks” in old cemeteries around town throughout the month. We like to bring flowers and lay them on the oldest graves, those that look forgotten that may not have had anyone to pray for them in some time, and we talk about (in an age appropriate way) what death means and the hope we have in Christ. While it may sound a bit morbid, it actually is a very moving activity that the children and I look forward to.


November 1 – All Saints


The Solemnity of All Saints is a Holy Day of Obligation, so get thee to Mass! Originally instituted to specifically honor just martyrs, today, we honor all the holy men and women who have gone before us and truly are part of the treasury of the Church. St. Paul writes in Hebrews 12:1 that we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,” and CCC 1475 states that “[i]n the communion of saints, ‘a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things.’ In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others.”


There are more than 10,000 saints canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, so the possibilities for celebrating today are truly endless. To keep it easy, look at pictures on holy cards, admire the statues in your local parish church, find some free saint coloring pages online, read a children’s book about the saints, or listen to any of the episodes on the Saint Stories for Kids Podcast by Shining Light Dolls. If you’re feeling up for more, help your children dress up in costumes as their favorite saint or create a game to play that honors a saint – Lacey at the Catholic Icing Blog has tons of wonderful ideas for celebrating at home here! If you’re in the mood to bake and need something salty to balance out all the Halloween sweets from the night before, consider making pretzels today – the traditional pretzel shape being reminiscent of praying hands.


November 2 – All Souls


On the Feast of All Souls, we remember especially the holy souls in purgatory. If you can, visit a Church today to obtain the plenary indulgence discussed above. I also like to dig out the old family photo albums and share memories about family members who have passed on. Another tradition for All Soul’s Day is making Soul Cakes – which perhaps is where the tradition of passing out candy on Halloween began. Essentially, families would make these little cookies and hand them out to friends and neighbors in exchange for praying for each other’s deceased loved ones. I have found baking on various feast days and sharing those treats with others to be a great evangelization opportunity, so try it out today and see!


November 3 – St. Martin de Porres


St. Martin de Porres is truly a saint for our times. Born the illegitimate son of a Spanish gentleman and a freed slave of either African or Native American descent in 1579 in Lima Peru, St. Martin was ridiculed and treated cruelly growing up due to his mixed ancestry. His father abandoned him, leaving him, his mother, and his little sister in grinding poverty. He didn’t escape such racism and discrimination even when he entered the Dominican Convent of the Rosary in Lima at age 15, but eventually was allowed to become a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic despite laws that denied him such a privilege.


St. Martin exhibited heroic virtue throughout his life, including overcoming the extreme adversity posed to him by blatant racism and discrimination and exceptional spiritual abilities such as aerial flights, bilocation, instant cures, and miraculous knowledge. He was close friends with St. Juan Macias and St. Rose of Lima, both fellow Dominicans. He is the patron saint of African Americans, race relations, and social justice, just to name a few!


Celebrate today by talking to your children about racism (there are some great resources available at Katherine Bogner’s blog, here, and at Lacy’s Catholic Icing blog, here). Pray as a family through St. Martin de Porres' intercession, not just for social justice in our society as a whole, but that our eyes may be open to the ways we perpetrate the grave sin of racism in our own lives. Racism has been described as a “sin of the world” – a sin that is everybody’s responsibility but seems to be nobody’s fault individually. The best place to begin tackling the monstrosity of racism, however, is in our own lives.


November 5 – St. Elizabeth

St. Elizabeth is a saint of the New Testament. The wife of the priest Zechariah, she and her husband were described in the Gospel of Luke as “righteous before God,” yet they remained childless. One day while Zechariah was praying in the temple, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him, saying “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born." (Luke 1:13-15). Zechariah questioned whether such a thing was possible due to his and Elizabeth’s advanced age. As punishment, he was rendered mute until the baby who was to become known as St. John the Baptist was born.


In the meantime, Gabriel was busy in Nazareth telling the Blessed Virgin Mary that she, too, would have a child. Gabriel also told Mary that her cousin Elizabeth was with child, despite her old age. Rather than doubting God was capable of doing such a thing as Zechariah had, Mary gave her “yes” to God. St. Luke writes that she then hastened to the hill country to see her cousin, Elizabeth.


When Elizabeth saw Mary, scripture says that St. John the Baptist leapt in Elizabeth’s womb, and filled by the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth cried out, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!" (Luke 1:41-45). It is from these two stories that we get the first half of the Hail Mary prayer.


Mary stayed with Elizabeth until St. John’s birth. When he was born, scripture tells us that the neighbors assumed he would be named Zechariah. At this point Zechariah regained his ability to speak, assenting to God’s will by confirming the baby would be named John. He then burst forth into his beautiful song of praise, known as the Canticle of Zechariah.


We don’t know much else about what happened to Zechariah or Elizabeth after this point, although some apocryphal works state that Zechariah was murdered in the temple. St. Elizabeth is the patron saint of pregnant women, especially those struggling to conceive.


Celebrate today by reading the entire story about St. Elizabeth in Luke 1, and pray the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, the Visitation, as a family. It is also traditional to read the Canticle of Zechariah as part of the morning prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours, as it is a wonderful reminder at the beginning of each new day of how God is continually preparing our hearts for the “dawn from on high to break upon us.” Consider taking this up as part of your morning prayer routine. Today is also the perfect day to take a meal to a friend or family who may have recently welcomed a new baby!


November 8 – St. Elizabeth of the Trinity


St. Elizabeth of the Trinity is a relatively new saint, having just been canonized by Pope Francis in 2016. A contemporary of St. Therese of Lisieux, though they did not know each other in life, St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was also a French Carmelite who lived in the early 20th century. She was profoundly impacted by St. Therese’s autobiography, A Story of a Soul, describing it as a “lightning moment” in her life, where everything suddenly crystallized and she was finally able to see and respond to how God was working in her heart.


I just recently learned of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity this year through a series of reflections by Claire Dwyer at SpiritualDirection.com, and they are well worth the read. You can start with Part 1 here.


St. Elizabeth described her charism as a completely interior one. By losing herself entirely in the Trinity, she found “Heaven within” and exhorted those around her to embrace and live in that reality. To celebrate today, spend some time contemplating the mystery of the Trinity and talking about it with your children. There are lots of great Trinity inspired crafts online, but this one from Catholic Icing is both easy and a great way to teach younger children the “Glory Be” prayer!


November 10 – St. Leo the Great


St. Leo the Great, also known as Pope St. Leo I, succeeded Pope Sixtus III in 440 AD. Born into a Tuscan aristocratic family, St. Leo was gifted at reconciling parties in both the secular and spiritual spheres. Prior to becoming Pope, he was sent to Gaul at the request of Emperor Valentinian III to bring peace between Gaul’s chief military commanders and the chief magistrate. After becoming Pope, he strove to maintain peace within the Church as it was threatened by a slew of heresies, including Pelagianism and Manichaeism, and to protect the Church from external forces, as well, including the 452 AD invasion of Italy by Attila the Hun.


In an election year where divisions seem particularly highlighted, St. Leo the Great is an excellent intercessor for peace and unity. Celebrate today by listening to the Saint Stories for Kids Podcast Episode 44 on his meeting with Attila the Hun. The Catholic Inspired Blog also has a fun craft for today to commemorate this particular story!


November 11 – St. Martin de Tours (Martinmas)


St. Martin de Tours is one of my four-year-old son’s favorite saints because he was a soldier in addition to later becoming a bishop (I’m guessing it’s the solider part that appeals to Beckett the most at this age).


Born in what is now Hungary around 316 AD, St. Martin, the son of a veteran, was forced into the army at age 15. Although his parents were pagan, just before Martin’s birth Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, and it flourished. Martin became a catechumen and was baptized at age 18. It was at this time, while serving in the cavalry, that he encountered an unclothed beggar outside of Amiens, France. Since he had no other clothes to spare, Martin took his sword and cut his own beautiful red cloak in two, giving the larger half to the beggar. That night, Martin had a vision of Christ dressed in the half of the red cloak he had given to the beggar, who said "Martin, a mere catechumen has clothed me."


By age 20, Martin’s conscience would not allow him to fight any longer, so he left the army and began studying under St. Hilary of Poitiers and eventually became the Bishop of Tours, although against his will (he was apparently lured to the city under false pretenses, and when he realized what had happened, he hid in a barn, only to be given away by the incessant honking of the geese!). Hagiographer Sulpicius Severus knew Martin personally and wrote about him, describing many accounts of miracles. In one such account Martin, while trying to convert a band of Druids stood directly in the path of a tree sacred to the Druids that was being felled. The falling pine missed him, and the Druids were so convinced of the miraculous nature of the event that they converted on the spot.


Traditional Martinmas celebrations involved serving goose for dinner and carving lanterns out of beets! To keep things simpler, celebrate by listening to the Saint Stories for Kids Podcast Episode 45 on St. Martin and take the children to feed the geese at a nearby pond. You can still do a traditional lantern walk by making lanterns out of tissue paper covered jars or punched tin cans with votive candles inside. Consider going through your winter clothes and coats that no longer fit and donating them in the spirit of St. Martin’s first great act of charity.


November 13 – St. Frances Xavier Cabrini


St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, also known as Mother Cabrini, was an Italian American nun who founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Though she longed to be a missionary to China, Pope Leo XIII sent her west to New York instead, where she became a great light and source of hope for thousands of Italian immigrants. She established schools and orphanages despite enormous opposition and was so successful that she eventually travelled to Europe, Central and South America, and across the United States founding 67 schools, hospitals, and orphanages. She is the patron saint of immigrants!


If you are able, consider donating today to the Cabrini Mission Foundation, an organization sponsored by Mother Cabrini’s Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus religious order dedicated to providing social services, healthcare and education for women, children, immigrants and elders. I also love this sweet little drawing that would be easy to recreate with the children to commemorate Mother Cabrini’s 23 trans-Atlantic crossings!


November 16 – St. Gertrude


St. Gertrude was a German Benedictine nun born in 1256 and is the only female saint to be given the title “the Great,” even though she has never been formally canonized! She was both a great theologian and mystic. She began receiving visions at the age of 25 that persisted throughout her life, including one where she saw Jesus Christ Himself offering mass, and she practiced what is known as “nuptial mysticism,” seeing herself as the bride of Christ. She is often invoked on behalf of the Poor Souls in Purgatory, making her an especially appropriate saint for the month of November.


Celebrate today by visiting a local cemetery and praying the St. Gertrude Prayer for the souls there, which is said to be so powerful that every time it is devoutly recited, 1000 souls are released from Purgatory. Don’t forget – this year the Vatican has allowed us to obtain a plenary indulgence for this act throughout the entire month of November (usually the plenary indulgence is only available on November 1-8).


November 17 – St. Elizabeth of Hungary


St. Elizabeth of Hungary was born a princess in 1207. Married via an arranged marriage at age 14 to the Duke of Thuringia, the couple nonetheless fell deeply in love. Elizabeth was renowned for the extraordinary charity to the poor – so much so that it caused a rift between her and her mother-in-law, who accused her of giving away too much of their goods. One day when Elizabeth was carrying bread in her apron to feed the hungry, her mother-in-law caught her and demanded she reveal what she was hiding in her skirts. When Elizabeth opened her apron, instead of the bread, a shower of beautiful, red Hungarian roses fell out, despite the fact it was the dead of winter!


Another story of her heroic charity describes how her husband came home one time to find her nursing a leper in their bed! At first he was apparently miffed, but experienced a change of heart once he saw a vision of Our Lord lying there instead of the leper.


Sadly, after six years of marriage and three children, Louis died in the Crusades, and his family treated St. Elizabeth horribly, casting her out of the palace. She was reinstated, along with her son, as the legal heir to the throne, upon the return of her husband’s allies from the Crusade. In 1228, she joined the Secular Franciscan Order and eventually became its patroness following her death at age 24. She was canonized just four years later!


My children love the story of St. Elizabeth as told by author Dessi Jackson in her children’s book, Roses in the Snow. Other ideas for celebrating today include volunteering at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen or going grocery shopping to pick up items to donate. Since Thanksgiving is approaching, many parishes have food drives going on or programs that allow you to purchase a Thanksgiving meal for a family in need, all of which would be a wonderful way to honor St. Elizabeth.


November 21 – Presentation of Mary


We celebrate the Presentation of Jesus on February 2, officially marking the end of the Christmas season, but today, we celebrate the Presentation of his mother, Mary! Known in Eastern Churches as the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos (God-bearer) into the Temple, this feast celebrates the day the Blessed Virgin’s parents, Saints Joachim and Anne, brought Mary to the priests in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to be consecrated to God. Tradition teaches that Mary then remained in the Temple from age 3 to age 12 before being betrothed to St. Joseph, who would serve as her guardian rather than as a traditional husband. This tradition arose from the second-century apocryphal work called the Protoevangelium of James, and while not a point of doctrine or 100% inspired by the Holy Spirit, these apocryphal writings do serve some theological value.


Celebrate today by praying the Litany of Loreto and meditating on God’s salvific plan. Even before the fall of Adam and Eve, God began preparing the hearts of the faithful for the Incarnation. From Abraham to Moses to David down through the generations all the way to the elderly faithful but childless couple, Anne and Joachim, whom he eventually blessed with the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, His plan is still working even today through you and me. This is a reason for great hope and thanksgiving.


November 22 – Christ the King and St. Cecilia


Christ the King


Today is the last Sunday of the liturgical year! Pope Piux XI declared the last Sunday in Ordinary Time to be the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe in 1925 to combat the rise in secularism.


It is traditional to recite the Te Deum on today’s solemnity, and, while Mary crownings are a big thing, I’ve never heard of a Jesus crowning, but today would be the perfect day to plan a little coronation ceremony and crown a Jesus statue in your home.


Since it’s also the last week of the liturgical year, treat this week as a chance to make some spiritual resolutions for the coming liturgical year. Committing to a daily rosary, Bible or Catechism reading, or trying to make it to daily mass or adoration more frequently are all wonderful spiritual resolutions. Consider taking up intermittent fasting on days like Wednesday and Friday or abstaining from meat on Fridays if this isn’t a practice you already do, or think about ways you can lean into the liturgical year more fully in your home life (like celebrating baptism days, patron saint or name saint days, or creating your own family litany of saints). Take some time to discern whether there is a particular saint who might be a good friend and intercessor over the coming year and resolve to learn more about them and read their writings throughout the year. The possibilities are endless!


St. Cecilia


Today is also the Feast of St. Cecilia, the patroness of musicians! While little is known about her factually, she remains a popular saint. Born in Rome in the 300s, St. Cecilia, a Christian convert, was married against her will to a pagan man named Valerian. Despite her marriage, she desired to remain a virgin, so during her wedding she sang in her heart to God, imploring Him to allow her to maintain this grace. On her wedding night, she explained all of this to her husband and revealed to him that if he tried to touch her, her Guardian Angel would prevent him.


Valerian was obviously a bit skeptical and demanded proof. St. Cecilia told him that if he were baptized, he would be able to see her Guardian Angel. Off Valerian set to find Pope Urban I, who baptized him on the spot. When Valerian returned home, there, next to St. Cecilia, was a great fiery figure with a sword, protecting her just as she had said. It was then that Valerian experienced a true conversion of heart, and both he and St. Cecilia eventually became martyrs for the faith. It is said that St. Cecilia went to her martyrdom singing God’s praises.


She was buried in the catacombs, and in 1599 her body was found incorrupt. St. Therese of Lisieux recounts the story of her visit to the catacombs in her autobiography, A Story of a Soul, and describes how it enkindled in her a great devotion to St. Cecilia. This is wonderful evidence of the power of the communion of the saints and how a young virgin who was executed over 1800 years ago and about whom we know almost nothing about can still inspire the hearts of the faithful today. The blood of the martyrs truly is the seed of the Church.


Celebrate St. Cecilia today by listening to a retelling of this story on the Saint Stories for Kids Podcast Episode 46 and making a lute craft with the children (St. Cecilia is often depicted with a lute!).


November 23 – St. Clement I


St. Clement, also known as Pope Clement I, was the third successor of Peter and the first “Apostolic Father” – meaning he was the first Church Father who had actual contact with the original apostles. While we don’t know much about him, tradition holds that he was martyred around the year 100 by being thrown into the sea with an anchor around his neck.


I learned about St. Clement from a wonderful book that I highly recommend for anyone with an interest in the development of the papacy over time – Good Pope, Bad Pope. For the younger set, sing or recite the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons, which has a line about the bells of St. Clement in London, while playing the game similar to London Bridge is falling down: while singing the rhyme, two players join hands, and the other children file under their upstretched arms. When the last words of the rhyme are said, “here comes a chopper to chop of your head – chip chop chip chop – the last man’s dead!”, the children lower their arms to “catch” the last child! A bit grim, but memorable, nonetheless.


November 25 – St. Catherine of Alexandria


St. Catherine of Alexandria is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of 14 saints invoked in Europe during the Black Death, making her an especially appropriate saint to celebrate this year. While we don’t know much about her historically, what little we do know in the way of tradition comes from a fascinating tale told in The Golden Legend.


According to the tale, St. Catherine was born to the pagan Queen of Egypt, Sabinella. At age 14 she chanced to meet a hermit who educated her in the Christian faith, and she became an avid student of theology and apologetics. After having a vision of Our Lord and Our Lady, she was finally baptized, and Jesus appeared to her again, this time putting a ring on her finger.


Around this time, Emperor Maximin began persecuting Christians in earnest in Alexandria, and having heard of St. Catherine’s renown for her knowledge of philosophy, sent 50 pagan philosophers to debate her. She answered them so thoroughly that rather than disprove her, they all converted! Maximin then had her arrested. During the period of her arrest, she was visited by over 200 members of Maximin’s royal court, including his own wife. Each one of them converted and was subsequently martyred. In one last attempt to entice Catherine to renounce her faith, Maximin proposed marriage to her, and she declined. She was sentenced to death by torture on the breaking wheel, but it shattered at her touch and she was beheaded instead. Eastern Orthodox tradition holds that the angels themselves buried her on Mount Sinai.


To celebrate today, serve wheel shaped foods (think pizza, cakes, or cookies decorated with spokes) and brush up on your philosophy! Having a solid foundation in apologetics is one of the best ways to remain steadfast in the faith, and it’s never too early to start teaching these critical skills to the children. The Catholic Mama podcaster Christine Flynn has a free e-book on How to Talk to Your Kids About God that is a great place to start (and her husband Pat Flynn has his own podcast, The Pat Flynn Show, where he hosts Philosophy Fridays and Sunday School episodes that are wonderful for deepening your own understanding of the interplay between faith and reason).


November 28 – St. Catherine Laboure


St. Catherine Laboure was born in France in 1806, the ninth of eleven children. She became a Daughter of Charity, and while still a novice at age 24, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her for the first time. The visions continued, with the Blessed Virgin Mary eventually requesting St. Catherine to have a medal made with Our Lady’s image upon it, which is now known as the Miraculous Medal. She died on New Year’s Eve in 1876, but when her body was exhumed in 1933, it was found incorrupt.


To celebrate, make your own miraculous medals out of construction paper today or check out any of these fun Miraculous Medal crafts from Lacy at Catholic Icing!


November 29 – First Sunday of Advent


Happy New Year’s! Today marks the first day of the new liturgical year and the first day of my favorite liturgical season: Advent. As I mentioned in the introduction, secular society has a way of rushing all our most precious Holy Days throughout the year, Christmas being no exception. Advent, a time that should be a period quiet, hushed and hopeful waiting and reflection, is often completely overlooked. Instead, it becomes a draining and stressful season as we try to find the perfect presents, decorate, make it to endless Christmas parties, and generally get caught up in the more commercial aspects of the season.


I’ll share more Advent ideas in my Liturgical Living for Busy Families in December post, but for now, resolve to really lean into Advent this year. Try to get your Christmas shopping done early and hold off on the biggest decorating until Christmas Eve if possible or, if you’re like me and just can’t stand to wait, decorate slowly over the course of the season rather than bringing it all out with a bang the Friday after Thanksgiving. Instead of blasting all the Christmas carols, create a separate Advent playlist and save the Christmas carols for the actual Christmas season. Consider making an Advent wreath with the children or doing a Jesse Tree or Advent calendar! Basically, treat it as a mini-Lent – practice moderation and prepare your heart to celebrate fully the most wondrous thing to ever happen – the Incarnation.


November 30 – St. Andrew


St. Andrew was one of the original 12 apostles and the older brother to St. Peter, our first pope! A Galilean fisherman by trade and originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist, when Jesus walked by one day and St. John proclaimed Him to be the Lamb of God, St. Andrew decided at that moment to follow Jesus. Following Jesus’s Ascension, St. Andrew preached the Gospel in what is now Greece and Turkey and was eventually martyred by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross in Patras.


I love that Kendra Tierney points out that St. Andrew’s greatest act as an apostle was in introducing his brother Peter to Jesus. In her book Catholic All Year, she remarks that today is the perfect day to reflect on God’s will in our lives, the people and places He has led us to over the past year, and where He is leading us in the coming year. The Scotts also apparently have a big St. Andrew devotion (so much so that the X on their flag is in honor of his saltire cross!), so consider making a bowl of Scottish porridge for breakfast! For the of-age crowd, finish off the day with a glass of Scotch.


Although it has nothing to do with St. Andrew and is not even a novena, today is also the day to begin the St. Andrew Novena, more aptly known as the Christmas Anticipation Prayer. It is recited 15x a day every day beginning on the Feast of St. Andrew through Christmas Eve. It is a beautiful prayer and, for me, really brings alive that moment of the Incarnation, so I tape it to my bathroom mirror and do my best to say it throughout the Advent season.

[1] For scriptural support of these practices, see Revelations 21:27, 2 Maccabees 12:46, 1 Corinthians 3:15, 1 Peter 1:7, Matthew 12:31 (implying that certain sins can be forgiven in the age to come), Job 1:5. [2] As with the doctrine of Purgatory, an explanation and defense of indulgences would require a whole slew of separate blog posts. For information on what the Church actually teaches about Indulgences (rather than what you just think you know from when you briefly studied the Reformation in your AP European History class in 10th grade), check out CCC 1471-1479 (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/_P4G.HTM).

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