Hey all! Father's Day is coming up soon, and I wanted to share some Catholic Dad Gift Sets we've put together for you guys, along with some free printables and our family favorite movies for the day. You'll find those at the bottom of the post.
Note: Since drafting this post, the husband is embarking on another round of tests and treatments. Backstory here. We'd be grateful for your prayers. If you're able to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration for our family's intentions, you can sign up here.
Today, I'm sharing a question from the mailbag. Have a question about liturgical living or Catholic life? Send it to us at helpdesk @ catholicallyear.com.
Really quickly . . . I attended the Catholic Homeschool Conference online this past year and like many of the listeners LOVED your morning prayer routine. Would you consider sharing it in a blog post? I jotted parts of it down on a misplaced piece of paper (argh!) but would love to use it as an inspiration/template for our own domestic church. I have two little boys so I definitely remembered the "run around outside first" bit. :)
Happy Feast Day of St. Matthew! I made silver dollar pancakes and they were a big hit with the littles. We also turned on Bach's Passion According to St. Matthew.
Thank you for all that you do. I'm a big fan of Maria von Trapp (Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family) and I have The Year and our Children on my shelf, but I turn to you for the updated inspiration for liturgical living TODAY, in the 21st century, with cell phones and laptops and all.
God bless you and your family!
Our Morning Prayer Routine
Here's what our morning prayer routine looks like:
Days sometimes get away from us, right? It happens. So whatever we choose to do FIRST in the day, that’s the thing that we are giving the highest priority, the thing that is least likely to get skipped or glossed over. For us that’s prayer and catechesis. That’s what we do first.
Because even though, yes, math and science and grammar are important, my children’s faith formation is the MOST important.
They aren’t going to get it from the world. Who else are they going to get that from but me? So THAT comes first, every day.
1. Run Around Outside
The pregame is to run the kids around outside for a few minutes for exercise. This makes what comes next more successful.
2. Say "Good Morning" to Your Guardian Angel
Then we stand up and we say “good morning” to our Guardian Angels, then we say “good morning” to everybody else’s Guardian Angel, and then everyone hugs each other, usually in a big "group hug" while we also shout "group hug."
This is a little thing, and it feels like a fun, silly thing, but, really, it gets to the heart of practicing what we preach, which is so meaningful to children. If we believe what we say we believe about our guardian angels, wouldn’t we acknowledge and interact with them?
We would. So we do.
3. Read a Bible story
Then we sit down. The kids each get a lit candle in front of them, which really does seem to help them stay quieter and more focused for this part, and we read a section from a children’s Bible. We begin at the beginning and just keep reading it cover to cover over the years. This allows us to be familiar with the stories and characters and promises of the Old Testament, which helps us to understand how they are fulfilled in the New Testament.
4. Goals and intentions for the day
Then we go around the room and each of us says a goal for the day (something we hope to accomplish this day with God’s help, if it is God’s will) and an intention for the day (someone or something that we are praying for). I think this process helps create a feeling of community. Sharing our prayers and goals with other members of the family helps make us accountable for those goals and lets us pray for each other.
5. Two Minutes of "Silent" Mental Prayer
Then we attempt two minutes of silent mental prayer. Sometimes this might be a guided meditation, in which I try to help us envision ourselves in the scene of the Bible story we read, other times it’s just two minutes of (relative) quiet. Some days are quieter than others, but we keep at it.
Then we blow out our candles. And because everything is a competition, they like to see whose candle smokes the longest and therefore “wins” at lifting our prayers to heaven.
6. Feast Days
At that point we switch to the liturgical calendar. We’ve got a wall calendar, and a more interactive daily calendar with a cute sticker for each day and a little summary of the feast days (available here), and we take the sticker off the calendar for the day and read the little summary.
And, usually that’s it, we move on to the rest of our lessons, which include singing liturgically relevant hymns and memorizing catechism, but . . .
That’s what we do together each morning. It takes 10 or 15 minutes.
7. Liturgical Year Bonus Stuff
But if it’s a feast day that’s of particular importance to our family or the Church, we spend some more time. I’ve got The Catholic All Year Compendium that tells the history and backstory of a lot of feast days, and I’ve got The Catholic All Year Prayer Companion that includes prayers and devotions and Bible readings that are associated with those days, so it’s all right there compiled already and I don’t have to be fiddling around on my phone looking for information or the version or translation of the prayer I want.
And I also have my liturgical year meal planner that has ideas of feast day meals, and I use that too, for planning.
8. All Feasts are Movable Feasts
Now, WHEN we do this part varies depending on the feast day and our family schedule. It’s usually my preference to involve as many people as possible in our more important feast day observations, so if we can throw a party and invite the neighborhood, I’ll do that. If we can have the whole family together at dinner and do our prayers and readings and discussions all together, I’ll do that. But sometimes better is the enemy of good enough, so if that doesn’t seem likely to happen, I’ll do our feast day readings and prayers and devotions with my school kids. We can always do them again with the family if things change. Sometimes we even move the day we celebrate the feast as needed. We are in charge.
9. Feast Day Activities
Especially for younger kids, I sometimes plan a little activity for them, which makes a feast day feel more special. Honestly, it’s usually as simple as a saint coloring page which I can hand to them as I get started on the school day with the older kids. There are lots of great Catholic artists with coloring pages on Etsy, and Shining Light Dolls puts out a coloring book for each month, which is very convenient.
Catholic All Year Subscription Boxes also come with fun feast day activities for the family . . . that we use in our family!
I also think it’s important to remember to mentally “count” non-desk time as school when applicable. I like to associate family outings with particular feast days whenever I can. So we’ll go to the zoo on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, and we’ll go for a hike on the feast of Pope St. John Paul II because he enjoyed hiking, and we do a little Marian pilgrimage on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and those are all learning activities!
We read picture books about the saint or the day at story time. (Find those books here.)
I also do a lot of cooking with my homeschooled kids and I think that’s really educational. There is so much that goes into getting a meal on the table. As a person who didn’t learn to cook until I was a newlywed, I remember vividly how challenging it is to cook before one has learned about planning ahead, and measuring properly, and doing things in the right order, and getting the math right when you need to triple or quadruple all recipes all the time. There’s a lot of learning to be had in cooking, not to mention an example of service to others, so I count that as part of “school” and as part of our liturgical living in the home.
Hope that helps! You can do it!
Posts with links to books we use
And posts with Father's Day resources