Tuesday, December 22, 2015

What Christmas Looks Like



Advent is almost over, and the Christmas season is nearly here!  Here is a coloring page with some of the signs and symbols of the liturgical season of Christmas.  This time lasts from Christmas Eve until Epiphany, which is typically celebrated the second Sunday after Christmas.


You might also like these posts:
What Advent Looks Like
What Lent Looks Like
What Easter Looks Like

Monday, December 14, 2015

The O Antiphons


We all know the song O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  Standby favorite for the season of Advent- but did you know there is a lot more to it than that?  There are actually seven verses...that you may or may not get through when you are singing at church...and each of those verses specifically calls on a title of Christ that fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament.




The song comes from the O Antiphons that are prayed by the whole Church during the seven days preceding Christmas Eve.  These O Antiphons start on December 17th with O Wisdom and end on December 23rd with O Emmanuel.

This year our school Christmas program is organized around the O Antiphons and the prophecy that pointed to who Christ would be.  In conjunction with what the music teacher is doing, I developed these printables to use with my students to help them prepare and pray during these last days of Advent.

I created a mini book with the seven O Antiphons.  Each page has the title of Christ, a symbol, the text of the Scripture, the date, and a reference for Isaiah and one of the Gospels.  Each student received one of these books and we walked through a Bible Study of the prophecy and fulfillment.  Then they picked their favorite and got a full sized coloring page to color and hang up with our other Advent decorations.

The mini book can also be printed, cut out, and used as ornaments:

Click here for the mini book/ornaments:
(Mini book- print two sided, cut horizontally, layer, fold vertically, staple.)
(Ornaments- print single sided, cut out circles, leave a small extra piece at the top, punch hole, attach string and hang.)

Click here for the full sized 8 page coloring book:

And even though I have *lots* of versions of O Come, O Come Emmanuel in my itunes library, this is one of my favorites:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ideas for the Year of Mercy: It's Here!



It's here!  The Extraordinary Jubilee began today, and I am more than a little excited for the opportunities this Year of Mercy presents to the Church as a whole, but especially to educators.  Check out this post for all of the ideas relating to mercy that I have created and gathered up.  What a special time we have for the next year, to spend intentionally sharing with our students the merciful love of the Father!

The Holy Door
Click here for info, printables, and ideas for teaching about the Holy Door:


Divine Mercy Ideas:
Click here for a Divine Mercy watercolor art project, including a way to simply explain the symbolism of the colors in the Divine Mercy image:

Click here for pattern and instructions for making a Divine Mercy melty bead craft:

Click here for ideas for several easy and cheap mercy bulletin boards:

Click on the image below for a printable for making a "pop-out" Divine Mercy Chaplet:

Click on the image below for a notebooking activity connecting the Image of Divine Mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Click on the image below for a post about making a lapbook connecting the Image of Divine Mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation:

Here are a couple of Divine Mercy craft ideas that are simple and cheap that haven't made their way into their own blog posts:

One quick Divine Mercy craft you could make is this cute mini shrine:

It is made with a repurposed Altoid tin and features the Image of Divine Mercy, instructions and the words to the prayers, and a pop-out Divine Mercy Chaplet.  You can also check my original post about making mini shrines.

Another super fast idea is to make these little decade Rosaries/Chaplets.  The heart and the vertical beam of the cross are one long bent pipe cleaner and the horizontal beam of the cross is a short (~2") piece of a pipe cleaner twisted on.  String on ten pony beads, twist together, and you have a chaplet that can easily be used by little fingers- they can even slide the beads as they pray.  These also could be used for good deed beads.  I used blue, white, and red colors to remind us of the symbolism in the Image of Divine Mercy.

The Merciful Love of Jesus:
Click on the images below to take you to posts with these printables:

A Bible Study on the healing ministry of Jesus:

A Bible Study on the Miracles of Jesus:
 Printable Sacred Heart of Jesus coloring pages:
 and prayer cards:



Saints for The Year of Mercy:
Click on this image to find out my list of seven Saints to teach about during the Year of Mercy, and find out more about the Patron we chose- Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati:

Click on either of the images below to see coloring pages featuring four awesome quotes by Pier Giorgio:



The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy:

Click here for a coloring page and a two different mini books about the Corporal Works of Mercy:

Click here for a coloring page and a two different mini books about the Spiritual Works of Mercy:

Practical ideas for kids to live out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy:



Click here for a prayer card with the prayer for the Faithful Departed (a Spiritual Work of Mercy):



Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly Printables:
Click here for a "Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly" coloring page:

Click here for a "Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly" coloring page:

Click here for "Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly" classroom door signs:

Click here for a "Do Justly, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly" folder or notebook cover:
Follow my Year of Mercy board on Pinterest for the latest ideas:


Videos for the Year of Mercy:
Click here to follow the list of videos I have been compiling related to the Year of Mercy:


Books to Read:

If you are looking for a book to read (or give to your catechists or teachers) during the Year of Mercy, these are my top three recommendations:


  1. The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis- short snippets of homilies or other addresses, grouped into categories.  Easy to read (can be picked up and put down or read in different order), and packed with wisdom on mercy, teaching, evangelizing, and more.
  2. The Second Greatest Story Ever Told by Fr. Michael Gaitley- You may know Fr. Gaitley from the great devotional 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration. He has written a phenomenal book that connects major historical events in the 20th century, Catholic greats like St. John Paul II and St. Maximilian Kolbe, and shows how their stories all interconnect and mean something for us today.  I loved it!
  3. Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job by Kerry Weber-Great book about how a young single woman actively tried to live out the Corporal Works of Mercy during one Lent.  Interesting, and makes us think about the ways we can be incorporating service and charity in our everyday routines.

Other Places to Check Out:

Check out the official Vatican Year of Mercy website here. See the calendar for the celebration here. Go to the USCCB site to read about the Year of Mercy here. You can watch a video snippet explaining the Year of Mercy logo and prayer here.

Visit Mother of Mercy Activities- they have a CD for purchase with 120 activities, but there are 12 available for free download.  Includes explanation of image of Divine Mercy, life of St. Faustina, how to recite the chaplet, and Divine Mercy coloring page, etc.

A few more Divine Mercy coloring pages can be found here and here.

If you want to do the Divine Mercy Novena, you can find resources here.

Catholic Icing has a ton of ideas for food and crafts celebrating Divine Mercy, including a Divine Mercy novena counter, a tie dye Divine Mercy shirt, Divine Mercy Sundaes, and more.

Divine Mercy for Moms- a website with ideas for living out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in family life.

If you want to order affordable Divine Mercy prints and holy cards, I would check out this site.


 Do you have any other ideas or goals for the upcoming Year of Mercy?

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Holy Door


In just a few days, Pope Francis will officially start the Jubilee of Mercy by opening the Holy Door. This Extraordinary Jubilee is specifically the Year of Mercy, but actually every Jubilee Year focuses on forgiveness.  One of the best visuals for the story of God's salvation and forgiveness is the Holy Door in the Vatican.  This door (and others around the world) will be open for this entire (Liturgical) year and is an invitation for pilgrims to walk through as an outward sign of the inward choice of turning back to God and accepting his forgiveness.

I'm no expert, so make sure to check out these articles:
Resources about Holy Doors from the Archdiocese of Chicago
CDOP Article on the Holy Doors in the Peoria area
Wikipedia on the Holy Door
Pope Francis' letter on the indulgences associated with the Holy Door

The Holy Door in the Vatican has sixteen panels with sixteen Bible stories of forgiveness and mercy.  Using the images as inspiration (see the actual door here), I created a simplified version (aka, stick figures): (All links to printables are at the very bottom of the post)

Want to teach about the Holy Door?  Here are several ideas that could be adapted based on the age of the kids and time frame you are working with:
1. Print the door and use as a coloring page.  Talk with the kids about the stories that are represented and the theme of mercy and forgiveness.
2. Print the door and the Bible reference pages.  Cut open the door and panels (lots of possibilities below) to reveal the story behind each picture.
3. Using the door and references, do a Bible Study at the kids' level.  Read the passages and discuss how mercy can be found in each story. Using the blank paneled door, let the kids create their own images of each story.
4. Do any of the above activities, and add the last layer, with Scripture verses helping us picture heaven.  The verses remind us that Christ is the door (Jn. 10:7), the righteous enter through the Lord's gate (Ps. 118:20), we come to the Father through Christ (Jn. 14:6), the veil was torn and we can enter into the sanctuary (Mt. 27:51), and that Christ knocks at the door of our hearts (Rev. 3:20).
5. Using the real door as a model, have each student make their own illustration of the Biblical stories on a 9x12" piece of construction paper.  Attach the panels to a door so that the students can walk through their own door of mercy.
6. Using the Biblical examples, have the students journal during prayer time ways God has shown them mercy and forgiveness.
7. Using the theme "Merciful Like the Father," brainstorm with the students ways we can extend mercy and forgiveness to others.

Ready to print and get to work?  Scroll down to download the Holy Door Activities.
Need some visuals? Keep reading! :)

I printed the door on tan cardstock and then colored the borders a darker brown.  I went a little crazy and used a gold paint pen to add the bolts that are visible on the actual door.

You could stop there, and just talk about the scenes of mercy evident on each panel.  OR you can continue with the activity and make the doors open!

A little hint to cut open the doors:
Fold the page horizontally and clip the middle.  Then unfold, stick the scissors in, and then cut up to the top of the door and over.  Repeat with the bottom half.

After you cut open the doors, you can glue it to the "heaven" page, emphasizing crossing the threshold from an old life to a new one.

To finish this one, just run a line of glue along the edge of the heaven page and then place the door over top of it.

Then if you want, you can also cut horizontally so the little panels of the door will open:

Another option is to add a middle layer that gives a name and Scripture reference for the story on each panel:

You can cut those panels just like the actual door:

And layer on top of the heaven page:

To complete the three layer door:

And if you want to get very bold and detailed, you can use a xacto knife and cut three sides of each panel.

And glue on top of an (uncut) Bible passage page:

Then each panel can be opened to reveal the story:

And the door can be stapled to the heaven page to create a door that opens:

I'm sure there are more possibilities!  I'd love to hear how you use these! :)


Click here for the printable of the Holy Door complete with images in the panels:
Click here for a printable of the blank door, where kiddos can draw their own images of the stories of forgiveness:

Click here for the printable of the inner panel with the titles and Scripture references:
Click here for the printable of the image of "heaven" with Scripture verses about the symbolism of the door:
Looking for more activities? Click on the Year of Mercy tag below, and check back on December 8th for a complete list of everything I've compiled for this Jubilee Year.