I was poking around Mary Reed Newland’s book The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season to explore ways of celebrating our Catholic Saints and Feasts this summer and ran across the following ideas. I couldn’t keep it to myself so I am sharing it with you.

Make the liturgy come alive in your home! Don’t forget to use your holy water, wear your scapulars and say the rosary. Maybe say a part of the Divine Office with them each day. Read to them. Don’t get bogged down, but DO SOMETHING positive each day with your children in light of our Catholic Faith. It is a daily fight to keep ourselves and our children climbing UP the ladder! It is easy to slide down…..

Teach them to love the Faith, with all its solemnities, all its beauty!

End of rant (meant for myself, too). 🙂

Here is a “sweet” and simple way to celebrate the feasts of the saints coming up this summer….

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Apostle Cookies

Any good gingerbread cookie dough will do, and any good gingerbread-boy cookie cutter will make a gingerbread Apostle (or you may cut them freehand with a knife). The twist is in the decoration.

We decorated each one with his own symbols, tied a ribbon through a hole pierced (before baking) in the top of each cookie, served them on a tray, covered, with only the ribbons showing; you got your dessert by choosing a ribbon, finding the cookie, and identifying it.

This is an excellent way to learn all the Apostles. The combination of head and stomach is hard to beat. The frosting is a confectioner’s sugar recipe tinted with vegetable colors.

The symbols may be made with stiff frosting squirted through a decorator tube, if you have one, or may be cut from foil, paper, or made of any materials that suggest themselves.

Here is how we decorated the cookies.

• St. Peter (June 29). Red frosting because he was a martyr.

Symbols: two keys, a cock crowing, an upside-down cross, a fish, a sword.

The keys remind us that Jesus gave him the keys of the Kingdom; the cock recalls his denial of our Lord; the cross tells that he is supposed to have been martyred head down; the fish – he was a fisher of men; the sword tells of his temper on the night he cut off Malchus’s ear.

Our Peter cut a silver-foil fish for this cookie and stuck it in the frosting. You could do the keys and sword of foil also, with the cross of melted chocolate. The cock can be drawn or cut from a picture and stuck on.
• St. James the Great (July 25)

He is called great because he was the tall James. He was the son of Zebedee and the brother of St. John the Evangelist. Our Lord called these two the Sons of Thunder: partly, we are told, for their vehement defense of Christ and His teaching, and partly because cause they wanted Him to burn up the Samaritans inside their houses with fire from Heaven, like the three little pigs, because they wouldn’t welcome them into their village.

Our Lord rebuked them for it. He said that He came to give life, not destroy it – which teaches a good lesson in resisting the temptation to “get even.” This was certainly the opposite of the meekness He said would “inherit the earth.”
This James was the first Apostle to die for Christ, beheaded in Jerusalem by Herod Agrippa. His symbols – the pilgrim’s cloak, staff, hat, purse, and scallop shell (always the symbol of pilgrims) – signify that he went on long missionary journeys. A tiny shell stuck to the frosting on this cookie was the clue we used.
• St. Bartholomew (August 24). The mystery man. His name, Bar-Tolmai, indicates that he is the son of Tolmai.

He is an old friend of St. Philip and is often mentioned with him. It is supposed that he is the Nathanael to whom Philip made his announcement under the fig tree. Nathanael was skeptical that this Man was really the Messiah, and our Lord commended his skepticism because Israel was often thick with self-appointed messiahs.

“Behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile,” said our Lord, as Nathanael came toward Him down the road.

Then to Nathanael: “Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee!” Then didn’t Nathaniel believe! He lost his heart that moment. “Rabbi thou art the Son of God! Thou art King of Israel!”

St. Bartholomew’s symbols are about as grisly as you’ll find: flaying knives, a cross, an axe, and such, because his was a wild and bloody death; and then there is our pet symbol for him – a branch of the fig tree. Make this with melted chocolate and green candy leaves meant for cake-decorating.

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