Living Our Faith in Our Home With Older Kids

I get plenty of questions about how to introduce our Catholic faith to preschoolers and little kids, but so far, none about how to help guide older children as, hopefully, their faith matures and becomes something that they take some initiative for themselves.

So maybe no one is thinking that far ahead? Or maybe everyone's got it sorted already? But for us, it's something we really try to be mindful about.

With kids past the age of reason (about seven), we focus on the sacraments, the lives of the saints, the rosary, and the Gospel.

We attend Sunday Mass with the kids, of course, and we also go to daily Mass once a week. We bring the kids to confession during Advent and Lent, and also every couple months the rest of the year. To help them prepare for their first confession, and to get ready for each subsequent confession after that, we use a book we're all quite partial to, as I wrote it. My kids seem to really benefit from having a little write-on checklist, to jog their memories as they do an examination of conscience, and to bring into the confessional with them, so they don't freeze up in there and forget what they wanted to say. The checklist part didn't make it into the final version of the book, but I had some printed up, based on an early draft, and we use those with our kids. There's a printable version here.

We keep books on the lives of the saints in our home. As part of the kids' homeschool curriculum, they do occasional saint reports. And we, as a family, celebrate the major feasts of the liturgical year, and our family name saints, and some other favorites. We have a special meal, and a dessert, and talk about the saint over dinner. But the older kids also are given the opportunity to do a saint report on their own, for any other saint day. Someone does a saint report, we all get dessert. It's quite motivational.

We have lots of great picture books and children's books of saints, but for older kids you can't go wrong with the classic Butler's Lives of the Saints. It's an investment, but it's a fascinating read for kids and adults alike.

For something slightly less overwhelming in size (but still pretty big) I've had my eye on this anthology: Saints: A Year in Faith and Art

My chapter book reading crowd also enjoys the novel-length saints lives found in the Vision Books Series.

We have just a regular old church wall calendar hanging up on the wall, but there are many saints' days that don't make it onto that. So for very dedicated saint researchers/dessert enjoyers, I also keep a detailed Catholic planner on hand, which has at least one saint for nearly every day of the year.

I've written on how we manage a family rosary before, but I've recently found a great new addition to our family rosary, which is especially helpful for older kids. For the little ones, it's enough to try to get them to sit still and speak up and not break their rosaries. For the older kids, we'd like them to try to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary while saying the prayers, but, as we grownups know, that's easier said than done. Having something to look at, and remind us all of what we're supposed to be thinking about as we recite our Our Fathers and Hail Marys, we have found to be a good way to stay focused.

Finally, we encourage our kids to read the Gospel in their afternoon quiet time. As part of our morning prayers before we begin our school day, we read a passage from our Children's Bible, which I think is a good one, but older kids who are independent readers are ready for something a bit more sophisticated. But perhaps not quite so sophisticated as a standard Bible, with its many annotations and verse numbers, which can be distracting. I'd never seen anything that really bridged that gap, until now.

We recently received this illustrated reading Bible version of the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John, and it really is perfect for the eight to twelve year olds in this house.

And that's what we do.

And now . . . for my last Advent giveaway, how about we give away most of those things I just mentioned, to help you ring in 2015 with meaningful sacraments, organized liturgical living, and a fighting chance at making the rosary and the Bible accessible to your kids?

Here are the details on what you'll win . . .

1. A copy of my book: A Little Book about Confession for Children, which is an overview of everything kids and parents need to know before making their confession, in an accessible question and answer format, with sweet illustrations by my friend Maria. It includes detailed information about the whys and hows of confession, plus an examination of conscience just for kids. You'll also get a notepad of write-on checklists to go with the book.

2. Either a printed and bound copy, or a printable PDF download of this Catholic planner. Is 2015 the year you'd like to start living the liturgical year in your home? Or maybe just not miss so many doctor's appointments? Amanda from Planning On It has created an awesome 2015 Catholic Family Planner that can help.

Just some of its great features include . . .

* Contacts Pages
* All the liturgical dates for both Novus Ordo (Ordinary/New) and Latin (Extraordinary/Traditional) Catholics
* 12 Articles from Catholic bloggers and families on living out the liturgical year, getting to church with kids, and growing in our personal Catholic faith!

* 12 Monthly Planning Pages for sketching ideas on which feast days you’d like to celebrate, monthly goals, events and activities, anniversaries and birthdays, and seasonal notes.
* 12 Dated and Labeled 2-page Monthly Calendar Spreads {Jan 2015-Dec 2015}
* Vertical Lined Weekly Planner Pages {for Jan 2015 - Dec 2015}
* 2015 Year at a Glance Calendar Page
* Lined Notes Pages

And, hey, one of those Catholic bloggers featured in the planner . . . is me! I contributed an original, never before seen article about attending Mass with kids for May. Each month has its own tree, I think mine is my favorite.

You can order a downloadable pdf of the whole thing here, for $5.99. Or a printed, bound copy for $27.00.

One lucky winner will get her pick of the printed or downloadable version!

3. A 4x5 rosary flip book, and a copy of the Illustrated Gospels of St. Luke and St. John. William R. Bloomfield at Sacred Art Series is creating beautiful products that really fill a void in homes that are striving towards bringing a true and vibrant picture of our Catholic faith to our children.

First, he created a beautiful great works of art stand up rosary flip book. It stands there on the table, and, as you start each new mystery of the rosary, you flip to a new page and see a new sixteenth century painting. Great for keeping kids' wandering little minds focused on the rosary. Also good for grownups.

Next, he has created a reading Bible, beginning with the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John. It bridges the gap for older children, or adults, who don't want to be stuck with a story time children's Bible, but who struggle to read adult Bibles, cluttered as they are with verse numbers and footnotes.

His translation is a slightly modernized (no thees and thous) Douay Rheims, and features:
· The actual text of the Gospels presented story-by-story with large font;
· Sacred art from the greatest masters of Christendom, including Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, Titian, Duccio, Giotto, and Caravaggio;
· Beautiful binding with leatherette cover, gilded pages, and a ribbon.

It really is a beautiful book, and would make a beautiful gift. Mr. Bloomfield has set up a discount code just for my readers: CATHYEAR to be good until December 31. It will get you 15% off any one product (Gospel or Rosary book) or 20% off any 3 or more.

If you order TODAY, and have Amazon Prime, you could have your own copy in time for Christmas, but someone will WIN a 4x5 Rosary Flip Book AND a copy of The Holy Gospels of St. Luke and St. John.

To win, please leave a comment letting me know how you'd put these items to use in your home.

I'll ship my book internationally, and an international reader could win the pdf version of the planner, but you have to be in the US to win the other items.

The Netflix Subscription giveaway is still going as well. I'll announce the winners of both giveaways early next week. Then I plan to take a bit of a sabbatical which I meant to use to write another book, but which I might end up using to watch Netflix and feel barfy, because this new baby combined with a fierce head cold is kicking my butt.