Monday, November 21, 2016

Little Traditions, Big Rewards: Living Liturgically to Grow Faith

I can hardly believe yesterday was the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar.

Maybe it's my kids getting older and wiser, or maybe it's me getting older and....tired-er?...but each passing year seems to fly by faster. And it's equally true for observing the liturgical calendar. I could swear we just made it through Lent, celebrated a joyous Easter, lived it up with the great feast of Pentecost, and now we're here just having celebrated the Feast of Christ the King.

Just the other day I completely missed the boat on Martinmas. Completely. Like, it was November 14 and the thought of St. Martin of Tours and lanterns just began to dawn in my mind. (The feast of St. Martin of Tours is November 11...3 days before I even contemplated it.) It is hard to keep up with all the major feast days.

I would love a personal liturgical assistant (I would also love for this mythical personal liturgical assistant to be Kendra) who would prep, shop, craft, cook, and decorate for me prior to the actual feast day. I would love to wake up and have a kid's craft completely prepared for the kid's to work on without me having to even click into Pinterest. Or a gourmet ethnic meal simmering on the stove while I leisurely sip tea and eat bonbons.

But I'm living in a world where my mornings are devoted to school with my kids, the afternoons fly by with everything else that needs to get done, and by dinner time I am booking it to get some food on the dinner table. I have very, very little margin in my regular old, real, everyday life to be planning anything or decorating anything. I just still feel very maxed out. I'm out of survival mode, and living fully in maxed out mode.

But that doesn't mean that making memories with my family and instilling a love of the Church through observing the liturgical year is not a really important goal and value in my life. I am so glad that the little things I have done have cemented their way into my kid's little brains.

And let me tell you if you're currently in survival mode and/or just enjoying your baby or toddler, start now with the little traditions you want your family to love! Set up those Advent candles, celebrate your family's baptismal days with store bought cupcakes, let your little boys dress up as knights on the feast of St. George, whatever it is you like doing that is tied to the liturgical year, do it and start small.

You will be shocked at how quickly kids notice things that happen every year and start asking for them themselves. And the best thing is that little kids are so easily impressed! Take advantage of this and aim low. My kids love the special St. Patrick's books we own and love being able to find them in March. They love special nights when we just light candles while we say evening prayers for their baptism day or name day. Roasting marshmallows on the feast of Pentecost or the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is low work on your part and high excitement reward for littles!

I have been blown away with how traditions grab little hearts. We think that we should constantly be trying new things, entertaining our kids with the new and exciting, but what little hearts crave is tradition. They long for stability, to know they can expect and trust in things in their lives. The little things we do to celebrate tradition, which is really what the liturgical calendar is all about, are what build the trust in the love of God that we are really trying to give to our children. 

So we might not be able to do it all. We might not be able to celebrate all the feast days we want to, the way we want to. But I am telling you that the little things add up to big things in the eyes and hearts of our kids. So start small and start today.

And hey, maybe one day I'll be able to make lanterns for St. Martin and an Indian meal for St. Teresa of Calcutta -- I can dream!

The best news I've got for you today is Jenna's new book. If you're looking for simple and straightforward ideas for the liturgical calendar The Lazy Liturgical has got you completely covered. Jenna goes through the entire year, emphasizing the important feasts of the Church and different saint days and gives simple ideas that don't involve complicated crafts or tons of sugar. It's a great way to not stress about the liturgical year yourself, but to start traditions with your kids now. Head over to her Etsy shop to pick up your copy today!

Today Jenna is generously giving one Fountains of Home reader a hard copy of her book, just enter away, you've got till Advent! 

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  1. This is very helpful. thank you!!!

  2. I already ordered it with an etsy gift card I've been hoarding since my birthday! But I entered anyway because I have a bunch of friends who would love it and it would make a fun gift!

  3. Thank you! I have 4 kids..and we are lucky to have coins in shoes for St. Nicholas' feast day!

  4. Great post. Very encouraging and true.

  5. Christy, thank you for this post-lately, I've had moments of "Ugh, why don't I do tons of crazy epic celebrations for all of the great feast days we've been having?" and feeling kind of down about that. But you're right-it's so important just to do whatever small things we can in our current state of life. And this is a great reminder for me to hunt through our boxes this week and find Advent stuff. I've already started my devotional of choice (Monastery Journey to Christmas, it starts 40 days before Christmas each year), but I have Jesse Tree ornaments hiding somewhere...

  6. You are so right about little things making a big impression. We did a banana dessert that involved flambe for Pentecost and our toddler thought it was the most amazing thing ever. She said, "Oh God, thank you for Pentecost!" Now it's tradition.

  7. Candles seem to make things so special for kids :-)

  8. Yes to doing it small. I cut the waffles into a crown shape for breakfast on Sunday. The girls were thrilled; I wasn't stressed out, and all was well.

  9. "What little hearts crave is tradition... The little things we do to celebrate tradition, which is really what the liturgical calendar is all about, are what build the trust in the love of God that we are really trying to give to our children." <-- Oh, how I'm praying this is true! I'm still very much in survival mode, and since everything about the liturgical year is still new to us, it feels overwhelming sometimes (at least you can say you *thought* about Martinmas! I didn't even know it was one of the "bigger" feasts!) I'd love to see the Lazy Liturgical book as a reference.

  10. I love thee suggestions. I always forget about Martinmas too, but I love all the Advent feast days!

  11. My kids (2 and 4) are sooooo excited for Advent to start! And the "big" things that the are excited for are our collection of Christmas books, and driving around to see the lights! Aim low, indeed!

  12. Start small traditions- amen to that!

  13. I also occasionally remember feasts several days after they pass. Sometimes we celebrate them belated-style anyway. :)

  14. Great advice! Baby steps to liturgical living is my speed these days.

  15. Lighting candles is my answer to any attempt at setting time apart as special. It practically slows my breathing and somehow makes the dishes and floor grime feel further away. That said- other ideas of tiny, simple ways to live liturgically with little ones is welcome!!

  16. Love this. We are in Toddlerland right now with our two littles and the three year old is pretty excited about Christmas coming up and anything involving special candles, so I feel like we're on the right track. Jenna's book sounds pretty awesome. Oh, and I'm totally with you on Martinmas... thought about it sometime in October and then early last week. ;)

  17. I was raised mostly culturally catholic but I still have fond memories of pancakes on shrove Tuesday and lit advent candles. Hoping to up my game with my growing gaggle of kiddos. Thank you for sharing in this space. It's comforting to know there are other Canadians who love their faith as much as my family. Cheers from Vancouver - Cristina

  18. Can we somehow work out that i am your liturgical assistant and your older kids help babysit my littles? 'Cause I love me some Pinterest crafts!


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