Feasts Reach Them All
“ …people are instructed in the truths of the faith and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectively by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all. The Church’s teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart and have a salutary effect upon man’s whole nature.” — Pope Pius XI
I thought I’d share that beautiful quote with you to encourage you if you’re just starting out – just beginning to consider setting up your own family Feast Table. Pope Pius XI beautifully illustrates how the rich lessons and examples within the feasts of the Church’s liturgical year are able to reach all of us…meeting us right in our homes, tucked in our ordinary days. Making a place for them is our part in rebuilding culture.
Our own Feast table began very modestly around 18 years ago when our oldest was still quite young, but starting to be old enough to learn simple little lessons about our faith. My mom attended a conference/class with the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia and one of the themes of the conference was something they called a “family feast table.” Mom told me about the idea, and I set out to bring this idea into our home. I found a very inexpensive little table from a hardware store that we refinished and set up as our first Feast Table. I gathered beautiful images from old calendars, small statues suitable for little hands, and collected little holy cards of favorite saints. As our family grew, I began collecting book titles, learning of many treasures through the generous sharing from other Catholic moms. And over the years, our collection grew so that each year familiar friends would find their way to the table. Setting up the little displays on our feast table each month became an extension of hospitality – it’s a quiet little way for me to serve.
For years this practice of setting up a simple monthly display and a monthly liturgical book basket grew. And then…we remodeled. My humble little wooden table used for our first family Feast Table had been drafted into service elsewhere, and after tearing down walls and opening up spaces (which I am still smitten with!) I couldn’t find a place that would work well for our family Feast Table. Last month I had my teen son sliding a bookshelf from room to room as I searched for a place that seemed to “fit.” And that’s when we happened on the perfect spot – the one you see pictured above with the cream table nestled between the big windows of the kitchen and the dining room. It’s a perfect fit. I like how visible it is, and how it lives right alongside us in family spaces.
But…the bookshelf I was using as a temporary feast table was black. Blackety-black. In my pretty cream kitchen. And just…black. Light-sucking black. So, I thought maybe I’d paint it – I’ve certainly done that before – a cheery cream. But alas, the bookshelf was enclosed all around the bottom (bookshelf completely meeting the floor on all four sides) and alas my perfect spot is directly over a floor register. So I started searching for another option – something charming, cream in color, diminutive (this is a high traffic area so it had to fit between the window and wall and not be very deep), and something that would allow airflow under the bottom. Should be easy to find, right? LOL! It actually took quite a bit of searching since I had a “look” in mind but had no idea how to search for it other than general terms…>> cream…>> my dimensions…>> and then I just kept eliminating as I searched. And then I found what seemed to be the perfect fit at Amazon, believe it or not – the Safavieh American Home Collection Bookshelf Unit in Prudence White. I’m thrilled with how it looks and how it fits!
I rebuild culture right here, tucked in a sunny corner of my kitchen, celebrating feasts that “reach them all.” My little monthly moments of hospitality continue as I again set up our little liturgical displays on a cheery cream cabinet.
So…what’s on our (new) November Feast Table?
This month we celebrate All Saints and we remember to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory! And there are several other wonderful Feasts to celebrate!
- A First Book of Saints for little Catholics – for my little Laurie. 🙂 Feast: All Saints – Each month, I try to set out at least one little book for my toddler to enjoy with me, and this is the book for November. We read it over…and over…and over again. Because toddlers love repetition! I really wanted to mention this in case you’re just starting and you have a toddler – don’t be tempted to purchase every.single.liturgical book you see all at once! Make wise purchases – one at a time – and they’ll stand the test of time. You’ll be able to build your little collection each year.
- Saints for Girls (which you can also find at TANhomeschool here) – my 2 year old LOVES this book, too! I think it’s because the size is so perfect for little hands! She carries it around everywhere, finds a big kid…or me ( 🙂 !!!)…and says, “read me!” Feast: All Saints
- An Alphabet of Saints by Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson – Feast: All Saints – Ours is the blue cover of the original – it’s the tallest book in the basket (also available at TANhomeschool here)
- A Santo for Pasqualita by Ann Nolan Clark – Feast: All Saints (oop) This is such a sweet story of a little 10 year old girl named Pasqualita who lives in an orphanage run by a group of sisters. On a special day a Santero (a man who carves saints images in wood) comes to visit the orphanage and Pasqualita is thrilled to meet a Santero! At dinner that evening, the Santero and his wife (an older couple) decide to adopt Pasqualita to “brighten our old days.” The dear ways they refer to her as the flower of their heart, and their longing for the gift of a child, is a sure antidote to the ugliness and devaluing of the gift of life we see today. The Santero and his wife are to be Pasqualita’s grandparents – yet she is sad to leave the orphanage as she packs her humble little belongings. Her time at the orphanage has been dear and she deeply loves the sisters. The rest of the story shows Pasqualita learning how to find her place in her new home. She asks the Nino de Atocha (the Holy Child of Atocha) to help her. Her new “grandfather” wants to carve Pasqualita’s patron saint, but there is no picture of St. Pasqual for the Santero to view in order to make a carving. The entire story is so imbued with faith and stories of devotions to various saints and culminates with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and finally the gift of an image of St. Pasqual so that Santero can carve a Santo for Pasqualita. Although this book is longer than a typical picture book, it could easily be enjoyed over 2 or 3 days by any age. It is such a treasure! You can fit it on the Feast Table for All Saints, but also for Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Feast (December 12).
- St. Martin de Porres and the Mice by Eva Betz (available at TANhomeschool here)- Feast: November 3
- A Story of Saint Catherine of Alexandria by Brother Flavius (available at TANhomeschool here) – Feast: November 25 (*note that much of her story is legend and poetry)
I’d love other book recommendations for November if you have them!
Leave me a note in the comments box if you have a favorite November book!
Art & Holy Cards
- The Disputation on the Holy Eucharist by Raphael (was a calendar page that I laminated – gotta love those old calendars with beautiful sacred art!!)
- Holy Souls Holy Card (available here – scroll down to near the bottom of the page)
Activities for All Souls Day and remembering the Holy Souls throughout the month
- Prayers for the Faithful Departed – small prayer booklet available here – scroll down.
- I have two free printables for you to consider – download your preference: (1) Holy Souls Cards (color); (2) Holy Souls Cards (black/white) – print, cut apart and add the names of departed family members and friends that you would like to pray for this month. Ideas for what to do:
- Keep them on the Feast Table as prayer reminders throughout the month.
- Divide up the cards and assign a child to a card/intention as a prayer partner for the month.
- Keep the cards in a basket near your family Rosaries and at each Rosary time, have a young child draw a card out and offer that Rosary for the person listed on the card.
- …who should not be dressed in green for the Feast of All Saints (it should be white). But…what can I say…we were busy going to Mass and I forgot to ask the little girls to change his vestments to white (I love that the new little table has small drawers for holding Father Oak’s vestments, our holy cards, and other small items. You can read more about Father Oak here, but I plan to update that post very soon with a (free!) downloadable template for you to use to make your own “Father Oak.” (Forgive the 2007 photography skills! :/ )
A little more…
For more wonderful ideas, be sure to read Jessica’s November Book Basket at Shower of Roses!
Looking for a great book to help you get started within your home? Consider The Little Oratory: A Beginner’s Guide to Praying in the Home by David Lawler (who writes at The Way of Beauty) and Leila Marie Lawler (who writes at Like Mother, Like Daughter).
Keep doing the next thing, friends! We rebuild culture one little duty – one feast table – at a time!