Amidst the craziness that is our life right now, the celebration of liturgical feast days has been on the back burner. A couple of Sundays ago, as I sat down to do my weekly planning session, I saw in the planner that the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter was headed our way in a few days (February 22nd). I knew this would be a great opportunity to get back into the liturgical swing of things and to highlight the role of the papacy to the children.
It may be too late to use these ideas this year, but tuck them away in your mental file for next year (Pin it if that helps!). Many of these ideas would work for other days as well including the feast of St. Peter (June 29th) or even the birthday of our current Pope Francis (December 17th).
Our Feast of the Chair of St. Peter: Celebrating the Catholic Papacy
Teach the Papal Vocabulary
There is a lot of terminology that goes along with our Catholic faith. I took some time to explain the following papal terms to our kiddos. There is no chapter in the Baltimore Catechism level we currently use about the pope, so it was a good way to introduce them to our Catholic beliefs concerning the pope.
Holy See: A “see” refers to the area of a bishop’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction and stems from Latin “sedes” which refers to a “chair” or “seat”- the original symbol of a bishop’s authority. Therefore, the “Holy See” refers to the pope’s jurisdiction as the Bishop of Rome.
The Chair of St. Peter: A symbol of the jurisdiction of St. Peter that has been handed down through the line of popes (read above definition of “Holy See” for more explanation)
Papal Infallibility: This is the Catholic doctrine that in specific circumstances the Pope is incapable of error in pronouncing dogma. Make sure to note that this does NOT mean the pope is sinless or that he is infallible of his own ability – it a pure grace from God.
Who is your Papa?
The morning of the feast day, I took a bit of time to print off images of the current and past 2 Holy Fathers: Pope Francis, Pope Emeritus Benedict, and St. John Paul II. I just googled it and printed them off in black and white (boring, I know, but that is all our printer does!).
Over lunch, I showed the kids the 3 pictures and asked if they knew who any of them were. My oldest knew them all (yeah!) and my 6 year old knew only one of them. I took some time to tell them about each pope and what they are noted for and then ran back through the pictures quiz show style to help build their memory.
The Papal Seal and Coat of Arms
I then showed the kids an outline of the Papal Seal. We talked about the symbolism, especially the keys. I had printed off the coat of arms for both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict. We found the papal seal is a common link between the varying coat of arms.
Readings for the Chair of St. Peter:
We don’t have a whole lot of material for children on the pope, but we did read through our copy of The Story of Saint John Paul II: A Boy Who Became Pope. This remains one of my favorites!
And of course, there is always the Bible. I read and discussed Matthew 16:13-20 with the kids. They liked hearing Jesus use the term “keys” and seeing that displayed in the Papal Seal and coat of arms.
Here are some more papal themed read alouds:
What do the Father’s Say?
A reader once asked how to teach children about the faith of the early church and Church Fathers. Honestly, I’ve never done that, but I thought it was a great question and it got me to thinking. Here is my answer.
I suggest picking up a book that brings together many of the teachings of the early church and using it on such occasions as this. Husband took time during our evening prayer time to read some excerpts highlighting the papacy from the early church fathers. This is a new practice, but I know if we stick with it over time it will make an impression on the children and strengthen their Catholic faith.
We used our set of The Faith of the Early Fathers by Jurgen for this purpose. The 3rd volume has a topical index in the back. Look up papacy and off you go!
Cementing the teachings of the early church in even the littlest of minds will help fend off attacks founded on the premise that the Catholic Church “just made it up.” No, no, our faith is the same today as it was 2000 years ago! Praise be to God!
Foods in Honor of the Chair of St. Peter:
Fish would be a great addition to honor fisherman turned first pope, St. Peter. Baked fish is one of the easiest meals in the world – just brush frozen fish fillets with butter and sprinkle with herbs, salt, and pepper and then bake following the directions on the back of the package. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
We ended up cleaning out the multitudinous leftovers exploding from our fridge. Some times practicality wins out over fun!
We’ve been experiencing some unseasonably warm weather for February and the kids and I took advantage of it by having lunch on the porch – a real treat! I always drag my feet about moving lunch to the porch, but the joy it brings them is always well worth the extra effort!
Catholic Cuisine has two other suggestions for liturgically appropriate fodder:
Crafts for the Chair of St. Peter:
I’m not a crafter, but if that sort of thing floats your boat, check out Catholic Icing’s post on crafts that highlight the Chair of St. Peter.
I did get out the tracing paper and showed the kids how to trace the Papal Seal. How have we not played with tracing paper before?
Resources for you to learn more about The Chair of Peter:
Of course, we can’t pass on to our children what we don’t already have. If you don’t know what the Church teaches about the papacy, it is never too late to dig in and learn. Here are a few books to get you started.
Catechism of the Catholic Church – this is a great place to start because so many of us have it on our shelves already and it is thorough and succinct.
20 Answers- The Papacy – This little booklet is a bargain, but will help you understand and defend the papacy. Put out by Catholic Answers, you know it is a winner!
The Faith of the Early Fathers – this 3 book set is indispensable. Husband and I refer to it often when we want to know how it really was in the Early Church. It is an investment, but I know we will be using this book for ourselves and our homeschool for years to come.
Upon this Rock– If you really want to dig deep into the topic, consider reading your way through this very thorough book.
I’d love to know what you’ve done to teach your littles about the papacy!
You’ll also like:
February Feast Table (includes book list and ideas for celebrating)