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In case you prefer watching/listening to reading . . . this post is also available as a video.
🎥 by Jack Tierney
Creating a faith-filled Catholic home can seem overwhelming and impossible. It did to me as a young mother of four in 2008. Let me take you through how newbie me finally decided to give liturgical living in the home a try, and the resources we’ve successfully used for almost 15 years to keep it going strong.
Today, let's talk about WHAT Catholic All Year IS, how we got here, and how we can help you make your Catholic faith a priority in your home.
To do that, I want to introduce you to 2008 me. She was 31 years old, a brunette, had four kids 5 and under, and if her Amazon order history is any indication, she was in kind of a self-help place. A lot of parenting books, a lot of Catholic classics.
But, as crazy as life was with many small children, bringing home baby number four hadn’t been as chaotic as bringing home the first three. I had achieved my ten thousand hours of baby parenting, so I knew what to expect with this one. I was trying to get out of survival mode and make my home life more meaningful.
The husband and I had both been raised Catholic, but without much formation beyond Mass and the sacraments. We knew we wanted our home and our children’s upbringing to be authentically Catholic, but we really didn’t even know what that would look like. My oldest son asked a LOT of questions. I often didn’t know how to answer them.
That’s where I was in January 2008 when I read The Year & Our Children, the OG liturgical living in the home book, written in 1956 by Mary Reed Newland. I have a very clear memory of finishing the book, being convinced that it was a beautiful and meaningful way to make the Catholic faith tangible for children in the home . . . and that there was NO WAY I could do it for MY children in MY home.
I recognized that liturgical living in the home is, more than anything, a lifestyle. It’s not just a way of thinking about our faith, it’s a way of living and doing our faith. It’s so good and so worth it, but it requires real change. It’s a scary proposition. I didn’t see how I could manage it.
But it somehow really stuck with me and I couldn’t quite shake it. I kept peeking at the liturgical year wall calendar I had put up in our kitchen and thinking about things I might possibly do sometime.
So after nine months of thinking it was too overwhelming, I finally decided to just go for it. I threw a backyard Michaelmas dinner party, complete with giant devil piñata that my dad made for us out of cardboard boxes. (We still have it, by the way. You just replace the tummy candy pouch each year, and he’s ready for another vanquishing.)
After that it was a slow and steady ramping up over the next few years. We had a family Mardi Gras party before Lent. We came up with family Lenten disciplines. We did a puppet show for the Annunciation. We hosted backyard Stations of the Cross and a fish fry on Good Friday. We did a May Crowning. We ate with our hands for the Feast of St. Joseph. We dressed up for All Saints’ Day.
My earliest forays into liturgical living were mostly parties, because hospitality and entertaining was something the husband and I already liked to do, and something we had both grown up watching our parents do. It was an obvious place to take something we were already doing and make it more Catholic and more meaningful. Your liturgical living in the home should be an adaptation of the things YOU’RE already doing.
We added one thing at a time, as our family schedules and new babies allowed, until it really became that lifestyle I always suspected it was going to be. We established family traditions for foods and activities we could look forward to each year, like spooky mac and cheese for All Hallow’s Eve, and braids for Our Lady of Guadalupe, and cookie chairs for the Chair of St. Peter. We got to know our patron saints. We learned about the life of the Holy Family and the Early Church, we learned Catholic doctrine, all in little manageable bite-sized chunks spread throughout the year.
In 2013, I decided to jump on the mommy blog bandwagon and create Catholic All Year, so I could share these traditions and how our family was adapting Catholic liturgical living traditions from the last couple thousand years and all over the world to work for our family’s modern life. The response to the blog was really amazing. I loved how it allowed me to get to know other moms from all walks of life all over the world, all trying to get our families to heaven, and hopefully have some fun and make some memories in the process.
In 2018, it became a book, The Catholic All Year Compendium.
Liturgical living in the home was having a moment. Albeit a very niche moment. But I was part of it. For the first time since Mary Reed Newland in the 50s, there was a renaissance of interest in Catholic traditions. More families were recognizing that our Catholic faith wasn’t meant to be just for Sundays, just for Christmas and Easter. It wasn’t meant to be a quiet, personal practice. It was meant to be a loud and involved part of our everyday lives, part of our home and family life, part of our communities.
But with that interest in making a big life change, came the associated fear. I knew other moms were reading my book and feeling the same overwhelm I’d felt reading The Year & Our Children ten years prior.
I wanted to help. I felt, and still do feel, so strongly that this approach is a good one for families, and that it’s doable for ALL families, in their own ways. It just takes getting over that hump of figuring out how to adapt it for your circumstances and get started.
The first step for me when I started liturgical living in the home was reading a book and hanging up a wall calendar. So, Catholic All Year offers you both of those things. The Catholic All Year Compendium, and the wall calendar which contains all the feast days on the universal liturgical calendar, plus the other feast days I mention in the book, and historical but still recommended practices like ember and rogation days. Also, meat Fridays!
I recommend prayers and Bible readings and hymns and foods for particular feast days in The Compendium, but I know from personal experience that wading through the internet to find approved versions of prayers and a Catholic translation of the Bible and family-friendly hymns and recipes is a real challenge.
So, I created the Catholic All Year Membership Library. In addition to all the free resources available on the blog, and all the content available in the book, if you want to streamline the process of assembling content to use with your family, you can get access to all these resources that I use with my family each month in easy print and go form. All the prayers and devotions and Bible readings, and all the hymns and recipes, plus some printable decor and activities. It also includes a calendar for the month that highlights each feast day with fun symbols associated with the day, and a little summary of the saint or historical event we are celebrating, in case you—like 2008 me—don’t always have the answers to your kids' questions.
These are the resources I use with my homeschool kids as part of our school day, the hymns we sing together, the recipes I cook for us, the prayers and readings and devotions I use with my whole family around the dinner table, and the printable decor I use to decorate our home for the seasons and days of the liturgical year.
THEN, I started thinking about all the stuff I had found and created and adapted over the years to help us observe the liturgical year in our home. Candles, and decor, and banners, and rosaries, and scapulars, and stations of the cross, and crucifixes, and images of Our Lady, and the saints. We do projects and activities and eat foods related to the feast days. But if, like me, you didn’t grow up with this stuff in your home, it can be intimidating to know how to collect it all now.
So we created the Catholic All Year Liturgical Living Subscription Boxes, as a set of training wheels for families new to liturgical living in the home, or for people of any experience level who just don’t have the time or inclination to put these things together for themselves. Each monthly box covers three feast days. Right in the box you’ll find exactly what my family will be using to celebrate these days in our home. This is a lifestyle, right? It’s a habit we are cultivating in our homes. To create a habit, we need to practice it regularly. If you’ve got the box, you’ve got three feast days delivered to your door. You’re creating that habit. From there you can add your own feast day traditions, you can change things up, but you’ve got the basics covered. There are consumable things in each box, but also things that last and can be used year after year, or put out to beautify your home year round.
More recently, there are also a couple more books, The Catholic All Year Prayer Companion, which is a compilation of all those prayers and readings and devotions from the membership library, in book form, and The Catholic All Year Liturgical Year Meal Planner, which includes undated write-on pages and a section in the back with meal suggestions for feast days.
Over on the website, in addition to the blog and the boxes and the library, we have the Catholic All Year Marketplace that has individual items from various boxes, posters, items from some of our favorite Catholic makers, and laser-cut wooden Catholic devotional products designed and cut in our woodshop. Things like a Jesse Tree, and Stations of the Cross.
So, yeah, we’ve got a lot going on. But it’s all just here to help, in case you need it. There are a ton of free resources and blog posts available to all. At its heart, Catholic All Year really is still that blog, and the associated social media accounts, where I give the world a peek at what liturgical living and this counter-cultural Catholic-style family life looks like in one particular home.
Subscribe to get the boxes here.
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