Maybe your a recent convert who wants to impart the beauty of the liturgical year to your children, but you don’t quite know where to begin. Or maybe you’re a cradle Catholic just wanting to share the saints with your children, but you find your favorite feast days passing you by. Whoever you are, whatever season your in, no matter what you know, YOU, yes, YOU can live the awesomeness that is the Catholic liturgical calendar!
I have been in those shoes! As a convert, I started out not even knowing the definition of a feast day. Overtime, I started getting acquainted with the saints and wanted to bring them to my children and my home. Then I would see some Catholic blogger’s post on how their family had celebrated the latest feast day, and I realized that yet another feast day had passed without my even knowing it. How did those ladies do it?
A lot has changed since I joined the Catholic faith 5 years ago and I’ve slowly developed my “liturgical wings.” I won’t say I fly, but I definitely flutter! Here are some of the tips I’ve learned along the way that I know will help you in your resolve to rock the liturgical year!
How to live the Catholic Liturgical Year
Step 1- Know the Days
It all starts with knowing when the feast days are going to happen. If you are totally new to the liturgical year, this is the absolute first step!
I’m a firm believer that every mother needs a good planner. I’d be lost without mine! Even so, how do we get the Catholic feast days into the planner? There are a couple options.
Printable Feast Calendar
Here is the cheapest option (free!). I actually created this yearly feast calendar years before I ever had this blog. I knew I needed to keep track of celebrations of all sorts. My first calendar included family birthdays and anniversaries, as well as just a handful of Catholic feast days I wanted to observe. I’ve since polished up my printable and removed my personal stuff. It’s available in my Subscriber’s Printable Library. If you aren’t a subscriber, you can get your free copy of this printable, as well as other printables, by just signing up here. The password is sent to you once you subscribe and is at the bottom of every email from me.
You will still need to copy the feasts into a planner or onto a calendar, but if you are on a budget, this is a great option for you!
After awhile, I didn’t want to be copying everything from my printable into my personal planner every year, so I asked Husband to help me create a Catholic planner with all the feast days included. Using it over the past year has really helped me see what is coming up liturgically and allows me some space to do some special planning. Personally, I like my planner because it is so simple and streamlined. It has only what I need in it – no extras to distract me! (What works for you may be different, if my planner doesn’t work for you, check out Michelle Quigley’s super detailed planners here.)
This is obviously a little pricier of an option, but it will simplify the process of planning. I try to keep my planners simple and affordable so they are accessible to all the homeschooling Catholic mommies that are confined by a budget. I’d rather have a Catholic planner any day, wouldn’t you?
You will find digital planners as well as bound planners in my Etsy shop. (I also sell my standardized planner on Amazon, but I do not always keep it in stock. There is also a half-size planner with similar features available.)
Step 2 – Plan the Days
Whatever method you decide, if you are totally new to the idea of the liturgical year, you are going to have to do just a little bit of planning. The good news is, as you work on celebrating the year faithfully, you will do less and less planning as time goes on. Not only will you find out what sort of traditions work best for you and your family, but you’ll have traditions you want to keep year to year. Feast day celebrations will get easier as you go.
When I used my printable feast calendar, I would copy in the feast days I wanted to celebrate into my personal planner. Next to the feast day, I would jot a short note of how we were going to celebrate. If I needed to purchase anything to make that celebration happen I would make note of that on my biweekly shopping list. If the item I had to purchase was something I needed to purchase closer to that feast day (like a pint of Whipped Cream for our Assumption sundaes!) I would note it on the week previous to the feast day to allow me time to get it.
I do much the same thing now, only the feast days are already in my planner. All I have to do is put a note on the feast day of what is on the agenda. I really like my month-at-a-glance page in my planner for this. I can look at the month as a whole and decide which feast days are not only the most meaningful, but also the easiest, and most convenient to celebrate.
- Note the feast days you want to celebrate in your planner.
- Jot down an idea or two for celebrating on the day.
- Note anything that needs to be purchased to make the celebration happen.
Step 3- Gather inspiration
This is the fun part! Find some bloggers and other resources to give you some ideas for how to observe the feast days. This can be an ongoing affair.
I especially like to use Pinterest for this purpose. Watch your Pinterest feed and pin things you like throughout the year. Start a board to collect all these pins so they are easy to locate. You may want to even have several boards.
Here is a little inspiration to get you started…
(Tell me your favorites to follow in the comments!)
Step 4 – Keep it simple
The last thing you should add to a celebration of sainthood is a stressed out mother! I’ve found it is often the simplest of traditions that are the most endearing and have the most staying power. Don’t let the Catholic bloggers scare you away!
Keeping it simple:
- Start with one or two feast days a month.
- Plan celebrations using only what you keep on hand.
- Don’t feel like you need to do crafts if they are not your thing! (I‘m personally not a fan!)
My favorite ways to celebrate are reading some good Catholic literature to my children and maybe making a special dish in honor of the feast day.
Step 5 – Keep track
If you liked what you did, make note of it. I actually still use my feast day printable for this purpose. I keep it in my homebinder so it’s always easy to locate when I’m planning. Keeping track of successful celebrations is important for several reasons.
- You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every year.
- You don’t have to wrack your brain trying to remember what you did last year!
- Repeated traditions are the most memorable!
While the internet can be a fabulous resource for ideas, don’t let what others are doing stop you from even trying or from doing something totally different. It does not have to be perfect to be beautiful, and it doesn’t have to be beautiful to be perfect! I know it can be overwhelming to scour Pinterest and see what some talented mothers are doing with their faith, but instead of comparing, just tell yourself, “Wow, that’s great for them!” Allow yourself to be inspired and not overwhelmed!
I remember wanting to just dive into the liturgical year when I converted. I had a 5 year old boy at the time, and I felt like I was missing opportunities to share the beauty of the Catholic year with him. I was overwhelmed! It ended up being a slower learning curve than I anticipated and lots of trial and error, but I’ve gradually found what works for our family. Give yourself time, and you will find what works for you and yours! (After 5 years in the church, I am happy to proclaim that I know more about the saints than my Catholic homeschooled husband. See? There is hope for you too!)
Our family’s favorite simple ways to celebrate the Catholic Liturgical Year:
- Read a good book (Check out our family’s Must Reads for Young Catholics for ideas)
- Have some simple food (almost always from things we have on hand, after all, I don’t get to the store much!)
- Decorate a Monthly Feast Table
ABOVE ALL: Remember the liturgical calendar is centuries upon centuries old. Families and mothers have been celebrating the feast days for thousands of years with MUCH less rig-a-ma-roll, yet with no less meaning. Those same mothers were still able to raise up saints!
Somehow in our desire to live our Catholic faith well, we’ve over complicated things. Maybe it’s time to simplify!
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