Birthday Party for Mary: Liturgical Living With Littles

Celebrating the liturgical season, even in small ways, has been a great chance to celebrate our faith and educate our children from a very young age.

The Follett family teaches the faith daily.
The Follett family teaches the faith daily. (photo: Courtesy of Emma Follett)

Helping to mold young children into good Christians striving to be saints seems especially daunting on some days, when the dishes sit in the sink unwashed, laundry piles up awaiting folding, and my potty-training toddler as an accident, all while my baby insists on being carried all over. This season of life, living from dirty diaper to dirty diaper while awaiting naptime, can feel devoid of spiritual growth and moral formation at times.

However, by keeping our efforts centered on the Lord, even these small actions can take on a greater weight. Integrating the liturgical calendar into our daily life has brought purpose and meaning into sometimes-difficult days and added extra reasons to celebrate the gifts we’ve been given today and the gifts given in the past.

My ultimate goal is to arrive at the heavenly Kingdom accompanied by the sweet souls the Lord has entrusted me with. Many days, my efforts seem trivial, or even pointless. However, the Lord can take the simplest offerings and turn them into something beautiful. I pray that my simple attempts at leading my children to heaven and into relation with God will be magnified by grace and intercession.

“There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). During this season of raising my littles, finding a way to balance the day-to-day tasks while also working towards our greater goal of heaven can be overwhelming, but we have found some simple ways to do so.

Celebrating the liturgical season, even in small ways, has been a great chance to celebrate our faith and educate our children from a very young age.

Celebrate Major Feast Days

While most of our energy and planning go into Easter and Christmas, there are many beautiful solemnities and feast days during the year to celebrate as well. Recognizing and commemorating these days as a family helps to communicate the importance of these days while also creating memories and traditions within our domestic church to cherish.

On St. Nick’s Day (Dec. 6), have your littles put their shoes next to their doors. They can wake up to little treats and surprises in the morning and learn about St. Nicholas of Myra. Enjoy Fat Tuesday before beginning Lent. Teach your littles about a Seder meal during Holy Week. Learn about problems of the throat before St. Blaise’s feast day (Feb. 3) and enjoy some hot chocolate together. During the Triduum, do a walking Stations of the Cross.

Decorate According to the Church Calendar

From the normal additions during Advent and Christmastime like a wreath and a Nativity scene, we incorporate other simple decorations to represent the changing times of the liturgical year. We watch as the Holy Family moves throughout the house to the stable. And, after Christmas, we move the Kings in the same manner. One of our favorite feasts of the year is the Epiphany, the anniversary of our engagement. My husband dressed up as a king and surprised me at a church to propose. We even named our son Casper after one of the Three Kings. To celebrate the Epiphany, we put out a small chest that holds orbs, inside of which are gold, frankincense and myrrh. We light our frankincense candle and rejoice our own ties to the day. Bringing the liturgy that you are especially attached to into your family’s traditions helps foster particular and special devotions.

We change our tablecloths to green for Ordinary Time and white during Easter. We may add lilies to our kitchen vase for St. Joseph’s feast day on March 19 and roses for feasts pertaining to Our Lady.

My family enjoys several fall birthdays, so it is easy for us to keep our balloons and birthday decorations up until the Nativity of Mary on Sept. 8, which is a great day to enjoy some birthday cake too.

These small adjustments to our environment are subtle ways to align our daily lives with the Church’s calendar.

Learn About the Saints

Our children are named after biblical characters and saints with powerful stories. To remind ourselves and teach our children about these people, we celebrate their feast days in special ways. From special meals to activities, these days can be celebrated in many ways to draw focus to their namesakes. Many children books about the saints are read together and enjoyed.

I want to embrace my current season and embrace liturgical living, which will look different as the years go by and my children grow. For now, we are celebrating in small ways and teaching in simple words and actions, and we have hope God will take these little offerings and, through grace, enhance their impact.