I was poking around Mary Reed Newland’s book, The Year and Our Children, 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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Book Review:

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Achieving Peace of Heart
This is a wonderful book and one we have read more than once….written by a Catholic Jesuit Priest and psychologist (in the days when those credentials could be trusted). It is one of our favorites. Here is an excellent review:

Attain spiritual and emotional calm amid suffering, anxiety, or daily trials.

Celebrated Jesuit provides a detailed plan for every kind of challenge to internal peace. Fr. Narciso Irala, SJ, summarized the keys to a productive spiritual life:

1. Understand how to cope with, and then conquer, your own imperfections;

2. See that difficulties posed by life— sometimes by family and friends— can cause flawed responses (often that no one except you can identify);

3. These can generally be overcome by “re-training” your mind, your feelings, and your will.

The great, late Jesuit devotes entire chapters to learning:

  • How to rest
  • How to think freely, without fear and anxiety
  • How to put your will to use when “corners” of it have not been active enough
  • How to fully control feelings
  • How to be happy
  • How to “choose an ideal”
  • How to train the sexual instinctFr. Irala, whose book appeared in several languages 50 years ago and was a staple for Catholic pastors of souls and counselors, provides hundreds of specific guidelines for countless commonplace personal issues encountered, at one stage of life or another, by most of us. Examples:
  • Four causes of persistent distraction
  • Moving from imperfect mastery of flaws to real control
  • Ascertaining your maximum concentration period (essential for planning to conquer other internal troubles, if any)
  • How to banish little obsessions
  • Aids to insomnia (if caused by anxiety)
  • How to identify, then diminish the intensity of a foolish idea or emotion
  • How to keep from any possible episodes of letting the mind wander fruitlessly
  • Truly “resting while asleep”
  • The best use of memory
  • Common mistakes of those seeking fuller internal control
  • “Eliminating the annoyance of noise”
  • False “feelings of fatigue”
  • “Mental wandering” and its role in harming prayer life
  • On the other hand, why it takes “practice” to pray well
  • Why genuine and useful self-criticism can be brief
  • Practical exercises of the mind that strengthen the ability to focus
  • Combating scruples: a detailed plan
  • Measuring “the intensity” of your ideas
  • Practicing “singleness of thought”
  • Why and how to combat pessimism
  • The importance of “fostering joy”
  • The art of affective prayer (and the satisfying benefits)
  • The long arm of the inferiority complex and how to vanquish it
  • All about social discomfort and its cure
  • Eight positive, practical rules of life

A masterful guide, to give us support and comfort:

“In the first place, this book is for those who are fatigued from excessive work, worries or sufferings. Possibly they may have lost control of their thoughts and so will not know how to rest or sleep peacefully; or they may be unable to control their fears or sadness. The first part of the book is intended especially for this group. Secondly, we are writing for those who are healthy of mind but wish greater efficiency in studies or business, greater energy and constancy in carrying out plans, greater control of feelings or instincts, more joy, satisfaction and interior happiness. These will find useful and practical advice…. Further, it is for educators and directors of souls who meet up with problem cases regarding study or virtue.”
“If something makes too much of an impression on us we can be sure that we give it a greater importance than it has. This will depend on our bodily weakness, previous education, or lack of rational reaction against the feeling or instinct. But if we go to the very bottom of an emotional disturbance we shall find in it a departure from reality. This can happen in three ways….”
“Do away with useless confidences which are born of emotionalism or impulse. Never recount to any person you meet…what you suffer or fear, desire or plan. This might give you some momentary consolation but the sad ideas will impress you more in the telling and make you more their slave. If you tell them to your friends you make them sad, if to your enemies you make them glad.“

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Check out my Spring Maglet (magazine/booklet) at Meadows of Grace. Tidbits  and bunches of inspiration and encouragement!

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