When we began to consider our plans for this year, Elizabeth and I had some discussions about how to bring something new to our celebrations of liturgical feasts in our homes. We are all in agreement that the richness of living the liturgy is a treasured family tradition. We are grateful for the Catholic Mosaic treasure chest from which we've pulled the beautiful gems of faith-inspired picture books that have touched the hearts of our families. We are great proponents of tea times and read-alouds and lovely crafts. But we agreed that as our numbers grow and our family's ages vary, coming up with craft ideas that will engage everyone and end in a product we want to display is more challenging than ever. If the supply list and preparation changes each week, it can be difficult to be consistent with this tradition.
In addition to these considerations, there was the desire to engage our children in the beauty of silent, meditative prayer. We wanted to be able to leave them with something that would engage their hearts and minds while giving them something to do with their hands, something lovely to create. We remembered that Finestra Fidei was a rich resource of quality art work arranged in accord with the liturgical calendar and a companion to the Catholic Mosaic, and decided to use it as a basis for a weekly time of guided meditation for the children. You can see a list of illustrations contained in the book here.
We are copying the images in the book, which are stained-glass style artwork (view a sample of St. Joseph here), onto transparency paper (almost any office supply store or copy center will offer this service) and then coloring them with Sharpie-type permanent markers to create a stained-glass picture that can be displayed in windows or around the learning room as the liturgical year progresses. Because we don't necessarily want multiple stained-glass images, we'll let one child color the transparency each week and the others will color the image on card stock and add it to a liturgical year notebook.
In order to set the tone for a time of quiet, we wanted to add the beauty of traditional Catholic music to the background of our atmosphere. These CDs containing selections from the Adoremus Hymnal seemed the perfect way to add music that would raise our families' hearts and minds to God.
In our home, we'll share a cup of tea and read a bit about the saint who is the subject for our art that day. Then the kids will spread out a bit with their supplies and be asked to remain silent insofar as is possible while they work on their pictures. Ideally, little ones will be napping, but if need be, mom could entertain little ones in another room while the older kids work. Our hope is that we'll allow the kids some time to process and be in relationship with God and their heavenly friends, the saints, on their own, that the experience will begin to train their spirits in the discipline of meditative prayer, and that they will develop an appreciation for the richness and beauty of traditional Catholic art and music. We hope the loveliness of the end product will reflect the joy of the experience and be something we'll keep as treasured reminders of the growing holiness of our domestic churches.
We encourage you to try a similar time of quiet reflection in your home and we'd love to hear how it goes. Look for updates on our own experiences as the year progresses. Enthusiasm for this idea or questions? E-mail Colleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.