Writing a letter to your confirmation candidate

It seems that one of the biggest events in confirmation preparation in this country is the letters of support to be given to the confirmation candidates during their mandatory retreats.

I have three such letters saved on this blog:

Confirmation letter to my daughterConfirmation letter to my fourth sonConfirmation letter to to my third son
I've asked my children what they remember about the letter they got from me and their dad, and also what they remembered about the letters they received. 
The answer was not much, or at least nothing specific. In general they were happy to have gotten a bag full of letters and there was a sense of feeling loved and supported. I guess that's the main thing - for them to have a sense that this is an important step in their spiritual growth, and that people they know, love and respect have taken the time out of their lives to let them know that! So here are some tips on procuring and writing letters for young confirmation candidates. Start thinkin…

All Saints Day

Preparing children for All Saints Day really is a year-long event. Our liturgical calendar is full of feast days all year round and it is important to remember and acknowledge these events as they happen throughout the liturgical year. Unfortunately, I do not believe that we can rely on our parishes to help us with this! For the past six or so years, my parish has allowed the children to process in with the priest dressed in their saint costumes and then during the homily, Father would ask the children who they were and a bit about their saints. This year, for some reason, the powers that be have decided to cancel that and I think it's a shame. (Also a note to me next year to start pushing for it in August!)

So the gist of educating our children about the holy men and women of God falls to Catholic parents. Fortunately homeschooling gives us ample time and opportunities to do so.

I have several tools that help me keep on top of the liturgical year. Of course I use the links from Universalis on my blog, as well as Saint of the Day from American Catholic.

I also use this lovely Catholic Woman's Planner, and have a calendar from the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception up on my wall. With these tools I can see and plan for the liturgical year, all of the feasts and commemorations, almost effortlessly.

Most days we read something about the saint for the day and we ask that saint to, "Pray for Us" after our prayer before meals.

During the year, I like to read more about the saints to the children.
I particularly like, 57 Stories of Saints, by the Daughters of St. Paul, the Picture Book of Saints by Father Lovasik.

A new treasure for me is Father Phillip Tells a Ghost Story, from Adoremus Books (HT to the Happy Catholic for writing about this.) This really does a nice job of incorporating the other connection with ghosts and the dead with their proper place in Catholic life with prayers for the dead and purgatory.

Throughout the year I try to encourage my children to choose which saint they would like to be for All Saints Day and then we work on costumes.

You don't have to be a sewing wizard to make most of these costumes. I really like this pattern, and have used it frequently: Simplicity Pattern 4797. Bible characters are easier to make because you don't require a lot of extra detailing or fitting.

Perhaps the easiest costumes we have made were the archangels. I had my boys wear white sweat pants and sweat shirts and just put the wings on their back. Gabriel had a trumpet, the Archangel Raphael carried a plastic fish and St. Michael had a breast plate and a sword! Another favorite was John the Baptist. I took white long johns and died them brown and then made a tunic from fake fur. A wild wig added to John's rustic look and he also carried a honey jar and some fake books (John ate wild honey and locusts. A simple tunic with a set of keys and you have St. Peter! A block of wood with some holes to stick arrows in, hidden under a tunic and you have St. Sebastian! Martyrs are lots of fun and little boys like them because you can use lots of fake blood and that seems to appeal to their sense of gore that goes with Halloween. Calvin once appealed to his sense of comedy by stuffing himself with pillows and a skull cap, which we glued fuzzy hair to, so that he could portray Thomas Acquinas! He carried a big old fashioned Ledger book as his Summa.

Here are some samples of what my children have been over the years.

Noah as St. Juan Diego

Gabriel as St. Isaac Joques

St. Tarcisius - patron of first communicates

My favorite picture of my children. Top and across Sam as St. Francis, Gabe as John the Baptist, Calvin as St. Thomas Acquinas, and then in front Izzy as Our Lady of Guadelupe and Noah as St. Juan Diego!

Izzy as an angel, and Rosie as St. Kateri.

This year the kids were Father Damien the leper, complete with white make up with black highlights, glasses and a straw hat; St. Tarcicius again, although I think my makeup this year was better for bruising; Blessed Imelda, patroness of First Communicants, and St. Christopher and the Christ Child

I also like to decorate appropriately for All Saints Day with more emphasis on the saintliness of the season and downplay the spooks!

Here's how they look this year!

I use cards from a collection called Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives. I can't find that available anywhere on the net. Old holy cards or other pictures you can find and save on the net also work very well.

For us I put them on the table cloth and cover them with a plastic covering, that way the kids can talk about them during meals.

All Saints Day is a wonderful fun holiday. With a little effort it can be very educational for the kids and helpful in passing on our rich Catholic heritage and history to the next generation!

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