Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Celebrating the Brown Scapular


One exciting part of 5th Grade at my school is the honor of receiving the Brown Scapular.  The Brown Scapular is an outward sign of asking Mary's protection and guidance in knowing her Son more.  (More info on the Brown Scapular here and here and here.)  The Scapular is a Sacramental, an object or action that we use as Catholics to connect to the Sacraments and live out our faith.  Because my students receive the Scapular, I have the responsibility of preparing them.  Here are a few resources and ideas that I have used:

We decorate a bulletin board in the hallway.  One title I have used is "Mother Mary, lead us to the heart of Jesus."  This year, I used a large piece of brown paper to create a kind of mantle that said, "Mother Mary, help us love your Son more."

We surround the bulletin board with coloring pages of the Brown Scapular:

Click here for my favorite Brown Scapular coloring pages.

The bulletin board also had "St. Simon Stock and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!" signs made by students:

I made a giant Brown Scapular using one of the coloring pages (linked above), two sheets of brown felt, and brown yarn.  It makes a nice visual for our bulletin board:

I use this story book to prep my kids: The Brown Scapular, Catholic Story Coloring Book by Mary Fabyan Windeatt.  It is published by TAN books, but unfortunately, I don't think that it is in print any longer.  (If anyone knows of another publisher that is carrying it, please let me know.  My google searches have proved fruitless.)
I like the detail in this book, and the story of St. Simon Stock's life from childhood.  It has one page of text and then one coloring page.  My students have provided color for each of them, creating a nice book for all of us to enjoy.
(I will note that while this is a coloring book, it is not a coloring book that you can copy for your kids or students.  I do love finding a publisher that allows copies for classroom or home use, but this is not one of them.)

Incorporating several curriculum areas into one topic is a necessity for covering skills and content in my classroom, so I also created a Spelling List to go along with this Brown Scapular book.  The words are not all necessarily vocab for the book, but all follow the pattern of different ways to spell the long e sound.  Some words are easy, some are more challenging.

Click here for the list:
Click on the following three documents for three days of spelling practice, focusing on spelling skills as well as vocab usage:


 Click here for a fill-in-the-blank spelling test:

And finally, we ended the week with some comprehension questions over the life of St. Simon Stock, Our Lady, and the Brown Scapular.  There also is a place for the students to ask any questions about receiving the Brown Scapular without having to do it in front of the class.  Click here for the document:


The Brown Scapular ceremony was lovely.  The students all received the Brown Scapular, as did many of their parents.  Our priest always reminds the kids that wearing the Brown Scapular is like reminding yourself that you "are on Mary's team."  It is common to wear sports jerseys, uniforms, or matching jackets for a team or organization, and the Brown Scapular helps us see that Mary is our coach, teaching us to know her Son more and preparing us for "the game" of this life.

After the ceremony, we celebrate in two ways.  I always take a group picture and individual pictures of the kids showing their Brown Scapular.  (I use the bulletin board as a background so it is a little more apparent what they are holding out.)  We always mark important dates with photos, so I think this is a good way to continue to show the kids how important it is.

And then...we have Brown Scapular Brownies!  At 10:00 in the morning, which always makes for a fun sugar-induced rest of the school day. :)  I made this simple by baking a double batch of brownies, putting them on a tray, and stringing two pieces of brown ribbon between them.  I wrote in frosting the phrase on our scapulars "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ," and then laid a printed picture of our Lady of Mt. Carmel on the other side. (Drawing Mary in frosting is out of my skill zone.)

I hope this encourages you to consider having your kids (own or students) enrolled in the Brown Scapular, and gives you some ideas for preparing them and celebrating.  I'd love to hear your ideas as well!

Sunday, March 1, 2015



Today's Gospel has me thinking. 

We live in a culture full of stores of self-help books and people who believe that we don't really change.  Is change possible?  Or are our habits and tendencies and pasts so deeply ingrained in us that they never really leave, but maybe are masked by outward actions?

And He was transfigured before them...*

Christ revealed the infinite on a mountaintop to Peter, James, and John.  Was He changed before them?   Yes.  Were their hearts changed as a result?  I would say yes as well. 

I can easily convince myself that I can't really change.  That I repeat the same sins over and over, that I am no closer to Christ's vision for my life today than I was yesterday, that vice continues to trump virtue.  I certainly don't feel transfigured by my routines or typically grasp a vision of heaven in everyday normalcy.  Same old, same old.

But then I remember that my faith demonstrates invisible greatness made visible in the simplest realities.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. *

And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. *

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. *

While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” *

Transfigured, before my very eyes.  Transformation that cannot be guided by any guru, book, or talk show.   I am altered in a very real way through every encounter with Christ, with every gift of grace through the Sacraments.  I can see change in those around me, change that can only be a supernatural intervention.

Isn't that what Lent is all about?  Changing our hearts to be more like His?  We might fail, we might miss the mark, but that is our human condition.  That doesn't mean that it isn't possible and that it is not what we are called to.  We can change, but only with the power of Christ within us.

Rabbi, it is good for us to be here...*

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Sound of Lent

Blessed in the wisdom of the Church, the Liturgical Seasons set the soundtrack for our days in both tone and content.  I have found it ever so helpful to compile literal itunes playlists for Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter.  Those songs have made me think about my music choices throughout different times of the year and how they can effect my prayer and direct my heart.  I thought I'd pull together a few of my favorite Lent musings for you here.  Unless you have made a Lenten promise about silence :) give this playlist a try:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ideas for Lent

Here are links to all of the Lent resources that I have previously posted about.  Click on the pictures to go to the original post with instructions and printables.

Lent Notes Foldable:

Lent Word Cloud printable:

What does Lent Look Like?  Printable coloring page:

Give Up & Take Up youth lesson on Lenten Sacrifices. 
***This post also contains links to some of my favorite Lenten videos and online resources.

Youth Group lesson connecting the Stations of the Cross and Lenten acts of mercy:

Youth Group lesson connection the Passover and the Passion, using the movie Prince of Egypt:

The Gospel in an Eggshell: Connecting the infant Christ with the Christ that died to give us eternal life- great especially as we have such a short time between Christmas and Lent.

 Ideas for making your own Resurrection Eggs, which are great to tell the story of Holy Week:

New Life Seed Printable:
Great for making the connection to "unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it bears no fruit."  Plant the seeds, see them die, have flowers by Easter!

Lent Youth Group Lessons, Links, and Videos

Prepping my Youth Group kids and 5th grade students for the coming of Lent involved this little foldable:
We talked about sacrifice and why they Church asks us to pray, fast, and give during the season of Lent.  Discussion led us to remember that it is worthy to make a sacrifice and offer it to Christ in connection with the ultimate Sacrifice He made for us.  It is also good to sacrifice because by removing something from our lives, it creates a hole that Christ can then fill.  Each student was challenged to make a promise to both "Give Up" and "Take Up" something this Lent.
The back of the pocket-sized foldable also has the verse from Scripture as a reminder: "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'" ~Matthew 16:24

Click here for the printable: (four foldables per page)

Also in my prep this week, I wrangled together some of my favorite/recommended resources, and wanted to share them with you here.  They would be useful for ages varying from Middle School- Adult.  At the bottom of the page is a downloadable pdf with a collection of all of these links so that they can be easily accessed and shared in one place.

Here are some favorite videos:

Some good studies/emails/etc.
  • Best Lent Ever: free videos from Matthew Kelly sent to your inbox
  • Word on Fire:Lent CDs, Books, DVDs from Fr. Robert Barron:
  • The Way: Video series from Real Life Catholic- Chris Stefanick
  • Lentsanity: App, all kinds of Social Media, articles, etc., all from FOCUS
  • #ShareJesus: Videos meant to be shared as evangelization tools this Lent
  • Blessed is She: Not just a study for Lent, but reflections are based on the daily Mass readings specifically for women
Still stumped about what to do this Lent?

Here is a nothing-special document that can be easily shared for ideas on Lent resources:

Monday, February 16, 2015

What Lent Looks Like

Only a couple of days remain until we enter into the season of Lent, a time to return to the Lord, to fast, pray, and give, and a time to clarify and strengthen our relationship with Christ. 

The Liturgical Seasons that our Church has put in place create a beautiful rhythm for Christian life.  I also love the signs and symbols of the seasons, and plan to create a resource to use with kids as a reminder of the meaning of each season.  Up first is the Lent printable.  I have it in color, partial color, and full color.  You can print it out to hang in your home or classroom, or use it for a notebooking or lapbook project. 

I hope you and your family experience a fruitful Lent this year!

Click here for the black and white printable:
 Click here for the color copy:
Click here for the color copy on lavender:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: All the Hearts and Things

Oh, it's Valentine's Day.  Here's my obligatory single girl song to tell you how I feel about that:

Some friends and I call this genre "depressingly hopeful."

Ok, ok, I'm not really sad.  Here's a better song that speaks truth about who I really am:

But for real, Valentine's Day doesn't really bother me as a single person.  Some things do, but this commercialized excuse for a martyred Saint's feast day that actually isn't on the Roman Calendar isn't really a trigger for melancholy.

Plus, who can be melancholy when you receive this bounty from your students?

Appropriately for Valentine's Day, however, my sisters and I discussed John 2 this week in our cross-country-video-chat Bible Study.  John 2=Wedding Feast at Cana.  We talked about it all while drinking some un-miraculous wine.
And speaking of weddings, my cousin accepted a fun challenge from me to embarrass herself and educate the masses about the style of bridesmaids dresses from the past couple of decades.  She is a very good sport and has three posts with some highlights from various weddings she has been a bridesmaid in.  Here is one beauty, and you can click on the pic to go read about the rest.

Typically, my Valentine's Day is a good excuse to have a girls night, which I guess I am doing this year as well.  I am watching this cutie so her mama and daddy can go on a much deserved date night.

Yay Valentine's Day!

Go visit Kelly for more quick takes!