First Holy Communion Novena

Encourage families preparing a child to receive First Eucharist with a novena-style prayer to pray at home. Download the First Holy Communion Novena and make copies for parents, instructing them to begin praying 10 days before the day of First Holy Communion. Each day’s prayer time includes parts for children and parents, as well as a suggestion for a family practice for the next day. The text for the novena is from Christ Our Life, […]

Come to the Table: A First Communion Retreat (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second of two articles about hosting a retreat for children preparing for their First Holy Communion and their parents. This article provides the outline and schedule for the retreat. The preparations, planning, and materials needed for the retreat were described in the first article. Registration and Gathering The retreat begins with snacks and registration. At registration, hand out a welcome kit to each family. Ask each family member to write their names […]

Come to the Table: A First Communion Retreat (Part 1 of 2)

This is the first of two articles about hosting a retreat for children preparing for their First Holy Communion and their parents. This article covers the preparations, planning, and materials needed for the retreat. An outline for the retreat will be provided in the second article. One of my favorite activities to do with the children is Come to the Table, our First Communion Retreat. This retreat has become an opportunity for family catechesis, when […]

Making Our Faith Simple-Yet-Not-Simplistic: The Sacraments

This month I’m revisiting my book, A Well-Built Faith: A Catholic’s Guide to Knowing and Sharing What We Believe, with the notion of keeping our faith simple without dumbing it down or making it simplistic. The truth is, while there have been many great thinkers and intellectuals throughout our Church history, the Church was founded by fishermen and tax collectors and a hodgepodge of men and women disciples who were everyday, common folks with little […]

Taste and See: Savoring the Liturgy

One of my favorite books in recent years is Thich Nhat Hanh’s Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, in which he introduces the concept of mindfulness—the practice of being fully present in each moment—as an approach to healthier eating and living. When we eat mindfully, we savor that which we are eating. To savor literally means to “give oneself to the enjoyment of.” It means to be mindful of that which we are eating and drinking—to unite […]

Downloadable Worksheet: Find the Signs and Symbols in Your Church

When children visit a church, they may see sculptures, paintings, objects, and gestures new to them but steeped in Church tradition. Help children begin to understand the Catholic imagery around them with this month’s downloadable activity, “Find the Signs and Symbols in Your Church.” Use the worksheet in the context of a classroom visit to the parish church, or invite children to complete it independently on Sunday. If children visit different churches throughout the year, […]

Reconciliation Resources: A Story of Reconciliation and an Examination of Conscience

If you’re preparing children to receive First Reconciliation or planning a Reconciliation service for your school or parish, here are two resources to help. A Story of Reconciliation is a readers’ theater script presenting the story of the prodigal son/forgiving father, as found in Luke 15:11–32. Use it with children preparing for First Reconciliation, or present the story as part of a lesson on the parables. You may want to invite parents to—or involve them […]

Sacraments Matching Game

Our celebrations of the sacraments are signs of Christ’s presence in our lives and a means for receiving his grace. Help children identify the Seven Sacraments by playing a fun matching game. This downloadable game can be printed out and played in sacramental preparation sessions or as a review for children of all ages learning more about the sacraments. Even catechists or teachers can enjoy playing after reading my Living the Sacraments: Finding God at […]

Discovering the Nearness of God: Holy Orders: Oh, to Be Thin!

Welcome to the final installment of my series “Discovering the Nearness of God: An Eight-Week Series on the Catholic Sacramental Vision.” This week we will explore the Sacrament of Holy Orders, with the theme of “Oh, to Be Thin!” If you’re not an ordained priest, you may be tempted to skip this post about the Sacrament of Holy Orders. I wouldn’t advise it! The truth is, everyone who is baptized into Christ is called to share […]

Discovering the Nearness of God: Matrimony: Who Loves You?

Welcome to the seventh installment of my series “Discovering the Nearness of God: An Eight-Week Series on the Catholic Sacramental Vision.” This week we will explore the Sacrament of Matrimony, with the theme of “Who Loves You?” Any Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons fans out there? Here’s a blast from the past, 1975 to be exact, of the original “Jersey Boys” singing their hit, “Who Loves You?” (Gotta love those mid-70s styles!) The lyrics of the song […]

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