This is a guest post from Kelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum, one of my favorite blogs. I can’t wait to create one of these binders because when I keep ideas only on Pinterest they’re out of sight, out of mind and I simply won’t remember the recipes, activities, and prayers I wanted to do! – Haley
Our home library contains an impressive amount of Catholic books, however when it comes to praying as a family or marking a special feast day, the most important book on our shelves is a worn black binder decorated with a coloring picture of a blond St. Joseph.
We started livingly liturgically shortly after our third child was born. Our faith had always been important to us but moving to a parish that offered Masses for feasts we weren’t familiar with, held All Saints parties and encouraged the praying of novenas, pushed us to explore more traditions in the Church’s history. Before long, we were purchasing books full of activities and recipes, and downloading tons of old prayers off the internet. Once I started homeschooling, our lessons revolved around the feasts and seasons. We started creating our own family traditions that the kids have grown to know, love and eagerly anticipate.
But with all this enthusiasm came lots and lots of paper and frustration. I didn’t know what to do with everything I was downloading, If I threw it away, inevitably I could never find that exact prayer, image or website again. But shoving it in the drawer with all the holy cards and bulletin clippings just created a huge mess every time we tried to find it again. “Stop looking; there’s holy water everywhere!”
At some point, I took an old binder and a hole punch and just punched until the floor was littered with tiny circles. A recently colored picture of St. Joseph was slid into the front to make it look religious, and viola’ our family’s Liturgical Year Binder was born.
Having a central ‘collection center’ made finding the appropriate novenas, stories or activities so much easier. Ash Wednesday approaching? Turn to the Lenten calendar for children. Recent passing of a family member? Office of the Dead is at the back. It’s almost the feast of St. Nicholas! Blessing of the Clementines is on the page right before the stories start.
There were no more excuses to not say a particular novena, and it’s helped cement traditions that could’ve fallen by the wayside had we not taken the care to put everything at our fingertips. “When The Animals Talk” by Rusty Calhoun, became a part of Christmas as much as hanging stockings, Midnight Mass and a Christmas tree.
As my kids have gotten older, they’ve taken to using the binder as a reference tool and it makes them confident in leading the St. Gertrude prayer or the first day of the Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
But I’ll admit, it’s getting a bit sloppy. We still have the Novena for the Election of a Pope and Prayer for the Sovereign Pontiff shoved in the front pocket. Our Martinmas hymn has been tucked in the back pocket for a couple years now. It’s definitely time to update the binder. Some things I’m working on are:
adding baseball card sleeves to hold holy cards. We like to display the holy card of saint near his or her feast day but as our large collection is currently kept in a large envelope, it’s a lesson in patience to find the appropriate one without throwing the others. “No! This is not 52 card pickup!” I’d also like a place to hold the holy cards of departed friend and family members so we can remember to pray for them, especially November 2.
dividing the binder into tabbed liturgical seasons. Everything is kind of in order now but with no tabs, it’s easy for new material to get placed out of season or old material get returned in the wrong place. “Who’s seen the second page of the St. Joseph novena?” “Check amongst the Christmas stories!”
I’d also consider adding more unmarked children’s coloring and activity pages. I can no longer find some of the wonderful pages I used with my oldest online. I wish I’d printed just one more copy and stashed it away to copy for her younger siblings.
A note book page in each section to jot down where to find relevant stories in our other books or magazines. Maybe even websites if you tend to lose your bookmarks like me.
My hope is when my children strike out on their own, I can create a binder for each of them to take with them, to help remember all our traditions, and yet leave room for them to find their own family favorites. Although my binder doesn’t contain recipes, I would probably sprinkle our tried and true favorites throughout so I don’t get five calls on December 13 for my St. Lucy cake. “It’s too late to make it now! It has to rise overnight!”
Customizable, affordable, expandable and thankfully, easily replaceable should a three year old color all over some pages, a family Liturgical Year Binder is a great way to start and keep traditions in your home.
Kelly is a homeschooling mom of five who blogs at This Ain’t the Lyceum when she’s not chasing wheelchairs, chickens or faking death to avoid responsibility.
If you want to learn more about the liturgical year, you might be interested in our eCookbook, Feast! Real Food, Reflections, and Simple Living for the Christian Year to launch just before Advent!