Sunday, June 30, 2013

Celebrating the Liturgical Year: July

I was so proud of myself the other night, because I actually sat down with a calendar and a bunch of books, determined to plan out different ways we could celebrate and recognize the various holy days and saints' feasts over the next month.  I have a number of good books on this topic, so I thought it'd be pretty easy to map out some good plans (certain traditional foods to make for dinner or dessert, a good decorating or craft idea that was relevant to the saint of the day, special prayers to use, etc.).  Turns out, it's not as easy as I expected.  Or maybe July is just a little sparse on big feast days.

Since we attend the traditional Latin Mass, we observe the traditional liturgical calendar in our home as well.  You may notice that certain feasts I mention below are on different days than you are used to.


Here were some of the tools I had spread out in front of me:

2013 Traditional Liturgical Calendar, The Seraphim Company

Butler's Lives of the Saints Vol. III, Thurston and Atwater version - by far the best version of Butler's, and it follows the old calendar.  It's hard to put down once you pick it up - the stories are fascinating!

St. Andrew's Daily Missal (1953)

Around the Year with the Trapp family, Maria Von Trapp - I've mentioned this book a number of times.  I absolutely can't say enough good about it.  A wonderful source for how to observe the feasts and fasts of the Church.

The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living: A Loving Look at the Lighter Side of Catholic Faith, with Recipes for Feasts and Fun , John zmirak and Denise Matychowiak- very amusing book, with some real and some tongue-in-cheek suggestions for celebrating the Catholic year.  Follows the new calendar, though, so a little more flipping around to find what I needed.

Feast Day Cookbook; The Traditional Catholic Feast Day Dishes of Many Lands - I've mentioned this one before as well.  Good source of information and recipes (though some are a bit "dated" in terms of ingredients).

 The Catholic Home: Celebrations and Traditions for Holidays, Feast Days, and Every Day - This book came highly recommended by several blogs and by Amazon ratings.  I haven't read enough of it to give a recommendation either for or against.

The Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions for Children's Faith Formation - this book sounded pretty promising, but I find that there's not a lot of "meat" to it, and a lot of suggestions for activities are only vaguely Catholic and/or kinda corny.
Some good online sources for these sorts of things: Shower of Roses and Catholic Icing


Here are some ideas I've come up with so far, for some of the days that stuck out to me.  I was hoping for more ideas leaning towards the "food and crafts" style of celebrating.  But for most of the days, it's going to end up just reading something aloud.  That's good too, I suppose.

July 1 - Most Precious Blood of Our Lord
Have friends over for dinner of red meat and red wine, and pray the Litany of The Most Precious Blood.
The whole month of July is dedicated to the Precious Blood, so this would be an appropriate prayer to use on any day.

July 2 - Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This is one of the joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, so I suggested to Tom that maybe we pray that particular decade of the Rosary.  He decided we should be more ambitious and say a whole Rosary instead.  But it seems weird to use the Joyful Mysteries on a Tuesday (which is usually for the Sorrowful Mysteries).  Can you mix and match??  Maybe we should just pray (sing?) the Magnificat instead.

July 4 - American Independence Day (not actually in the Catholic Calendar!)
Prayer for Government (because they could really use it)

July 8 - St. Elizabeth Queen of Portugal
Read her story in Lives of the Saints since it's pretty inspiring, and read Proverbs 31:10-31 which is part of the Mass Propers for her feast day.

July 14 - St. Kateri Tekakwitha (technically not in the traditional calendar, since she was only recently canonized).
Read a story about her life?  It's also St. Bonaventure's feast day, who would be good to learn more about.

July 16 - Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Maybe just tell Sly the story of this apparition.  He already knows about scapulars, since Tom and I wear them, and he recognizes St. Simon Stock, as he appears on the back of Tom's scapular.  We could also eat caramels, even though it's a *little* cheesy :-)

July 22 - St. Mary Magdalen

July 25 - St. James the Apostle
His symbol is the cockleshell (which has become the symbol for pilgrims), and shellfish are traditionally eaten for his feast day.  I think they're all pretty gross, we might substitute shrimp.  I know, it's kind of a stretch. He's the patron of Spain...what's a type of Spanish food?

July 26 - St. Anne Mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary
She is patroness of homemakers and mothers (among many other people).  She is definitely a Saint I can benefit from.  I'm still looking for a good way to celebrate her feast.  The Feast Day cookbook suggests cooking in the style of Brittany (in France), since there is a strong devotion to her there. hmm...not sure what that might be.  Perhaps we can do something with that mysterious bottle of "St. Anne water" my uncle gave us.

July 29 - St. Martha
Another patroness of housewives.  I would like to read her story in the Gospels.  Perhaps I could serve a dinner of savory soup and some good crusty bread (which I like to think is similar to the meal she made when Christ came to visit). 


We'll see how this month goes.  I think Tom and I both benefit spiritually from these kinds of observances, and it might even teach Sly a little something.  Ideally, over time, it will become as natural to take note of the day's feast and act accordingly as it is to take note of the fact of it being "Tuesday" or "Friday", and perform the activities or errands proper to that day of the week.

I am more than open to hearing other suggestions!


  1. Good for you! I had kind of resolved to start planning how to live the liturgical year at home around Advent. But now that I'm going to have a pair of newborns around I'm not so sure how that's going to work out. :-/

    1. Feel free to steal any ideas from me, if you like them! When I bring you meals after the babies (!) are born, I can attempt to make them liturgically themed...haha.

  2. I've said the joyful mysteries before on the feast of the Annunciation, even though it was the "wrong" day of the week. I think it makes sense to do it that way if you're celebrating the feast day. I'd have a harder time convincing Chuckie to do it for the Visitation, maybe, but definitely for feasts like Christmas or the Assumption, the Feast is more important than the day of the week...
    (Incidentally, found this on fish eaters when I decided to see if that was common or not... "Before beginning, decide which set of 5 Mysteries you will meditate on (see chart below). Whichever set of Mysteries would feed your soul best or complements the day's liturgy are the ones you should pray, though praying certain Mysteries on certain days of the week or during certain liturgical seasons is traditional and should be followed as much as possible.")

    And we definitely had brownies with caramel sauce on July 16 last year. Not cheesy. (We had younger siblings over so it wasn't just the two of us, by the way)

    Maybe for St. Anne, do a little something for Sly's grandmothers? Wouldn't have to be St. Anne-related, but a little "just because" card :)

  3. For the Visitation you should obviously go visit October Rose. With haste. And then just hang out until the babies are born.

  4. Christine, Thank you for these wonderful ideas and your list of resources! For the feast of St. Anne---Breton food is wonderful--hearty and rich in butter. Brittany is known for its shellfish, buckwheat crepes and sea salt caramel. (So, there are two opportunities to eat caramel this month :)

    As far as Spanish food goes---may be paella or a tapas style meal with lots of nibbly bits?

    To celebrate the Feast of the Visitation, I think it would be lovely to spend time with a good female friend. The Visitation is such a wonderful affirmation of female friendship, especially of its importance in light of the challenges of motherhood.

  5. I have found that for my children a great way to "celebrate" without too much planning and mess (especially as your family grows and it's harder to make a big to-do about everything) is to do a lot of picture showing and stories of the saints and just coloring pages that you can do a quick google search for and print off from websites. I also love the Catholic Icing website for easy crafts for little hands when we have more time. A couple of saints for kids books and these inexpensive saint "flash cards" are great to have around so that any day you can pull out and read the story and show a picture -

    I have a magnetic white board that I put a saint or two a week from that set so the readers among the children and I can just have that simple reminder.

    1. Thanks for the ideas. We do have a couple Saints for Kids Books. Still a bit above Sly's comprehension level, but I hope to use them down the road. Those flashcards look very useful!

  6. Thank you for reminding me of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel....since Brian was once a Carmelite this feast day is important in our house, and I would have missed it, even with having the lovely Church calendar hanging in the kitchen. Once again, saved by your blog. :) Love your ideas. May use a few myself. :)

  7. It's lovely that you do this - Sly will benefit so much (as will you and Tom). I know we have.

    Sts. Joachim and Anne (July 26) is a biggie here - Our anniversary and C's baptism day. Big, big celebration. We talk about parenting and how important it is to raise your children in the faith (like J&A did). We have Italian because, well, we don't do French.

    I am going to let Sil read your blog entry since you kind of twisted her brain with The Visitation on a different day on your chalkboard ;0)

    Finally, if you come to AB, we won't always be reciting the Sorrowful Mysteries even though that is the proper day. If another is more appropriate because of a Feast or just because we want the kids to learn them all, you'll hear a defferent set.

    1. haha - it's great that she even knows when the feast of the Visitation is!

      Yeah, as Katie pointed out above, it is appropriate to use a different set of mysteries than the prescribed one, if it works better for the occasion. That makes sense to me!

  8. Christine - this is just wonderful! I love it! I have an excel document that I started way-back-when that has a list of traditions for big feast days that I found around the internet. I don't think it has anything for July though. I would suggest also singing the entire song America the Beautiful on July 4th. It's the often unheard verses that really are the best! (Particularly: "America! America! God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty and law!")

  9. That's really impressive! Of the 5 people in our family, we have 3 Feast days in July. So for us that means dessert of choice with Godparents and their families. That's probably ambitious enough for me for one month. I'm really good about recognizing Solemnities and buying icecream for those evenings but I totally slack everywhere else.

    1. Great idea about inviting the Godparents over. Unfortunately, our kids' godparents have all moved out of town...but a courtesy invite might occasionally lure one of them for a visit :-)