Sunday, January 13, 2019

15 Ways to Celebrate Our Lady of Banneux's Day

Did you know that between January 15 and March 2, 1933, Our lady appeared to a young girl named Mariette Beco in Banneux, Belgium and said, "I come to relieve suffering," and "Believe in me and I will believe in you"?

I did not know any of this until I participated in a Marian Apparition peg doll exchange and read up on the Virgin or the Poor.  Since, then, I have been waiting for Our Lady of Banneux's feast day on January 15 to introduce this apparition to my children.

To do so, I am planning a simple "Celebri-tea" and some lesson activities, which I am sharing about here in case you'd like to borrow any ideas.

A Simple Celebri-Tea

When we celebrate faith through food, we typically set our table with special decorations, eat something connected to the "celebrity" we are celebrating, and enjoy related a read together or activity.  So, for Our Lady of Banneux's feast day, we'll:

1. Decorate with Blue, White, and a Marian Statue

Since Our Lady's traditional colors are blue and white and Belgium is famous for lace, I will place our table will be covered with a white lace tablecloth. We will also put out blue and white candles and, of course, our peg dolls of 
Our Lady of Banneux & Mariette Beco.

If you do not have a statue of Our Lady of Banneaux, you could use any Marian statue or simply print an image of Our Lady of the Poor out.

2. Enjoy Belgian-Inspired Food and Drink

It would make sense to have Belgian hot chocolate and Liege waffles for our tea or to enjoy another authentic and popular food from Belgium. 

However, since I am slowly moving myself to a wholly plant-based diet with little no added SOS (salt-oil-sugar), I am going to try making 2-Ingredient Waffles or Oatmeal waffles instead.

I will serve the waffles with mint tea as well as chocolate-mint green smoothies, which I will make in our Magic Bullet by grinding one tablespoon of flax seeds, then adding 1/2 cup of spinach, one tablespoon dried mint leaves and one cup of water.  After blending these together, I will add a medjool date, blending again until the mixture is smooth. Then, finally, I will add a banana and one tablespoon of cocoa powder.

3. Include Water

On January 18, 1933, the Virgin appeared a second time to Mariette and led her from her house to a spring which she said would bring healing to all nations.  Thus, it would be appropriate to either include Holy Water among the decorations or to put a pitcher of water on on the table as a beverage alternative.

Likewise, connections could be made to Baptism, the Baptism of the Lord (also celebrated this month), and verses of the Bible about the Living Water.

4. Pray for the Intercession of Our Lady

Before eating, of course, we will pray Grace.  We will also pray:

Prayer of the International Union of Prayer
Mary Virgin of the Poor,
You lead us to Jesus, source of grace, and you come to alleviate our suffering.
We implore you with confidence:
Help us follow your Son with generosity, and to belong to Him unreservedly.
Help us to welcome the Holy Spirit Who guides and sanctify us.
Obtain us the grace to look like Jesus everyday more, so that our life will glorify the Father and contribute to the salvation of our Brothers.

This prayer and other can be found on the Banneux Notre Dame site.

{Some links which follow may be affiliate links.}
5. Read about Our Lady of Banneux

Source: Amazon

We will read our copy of the Our Lady of Banneaux Coloring Book
 If you do not have this book, you could read about Our Lady of the Poor and the apparitions online, although these sources are not in storybook form.

Lesson Ideas Inspired by Our Lady of Banneux

I am also planning gentle lessons connected to Our Lady of Banneux by doing some of the following

6. Draw Our Lady of Banneux

Using the description which follows from Our Lady on The Miracle Hunter, children can create their own drawn or painted images of Mary.

The Virgin was enveloped in a "great oval light" and wore a long white gown with a sash of "unforgettable blue" and a white, transparent veil covering her head and shoulders. Her right foot was visible and "crowned with a golden rose" between the toes. She had a rosary on her right arm with diamond-like beads and a golden chain and cross. She stood on a cloud with her head and shoulders bent slightly to the left.
7. Practice Writing

Our Lady of Banneux is quoted as saying the following things.  Any of these short statements could be used for copywork or studied dictation:

  • "This stream is reserved for me, Good evening."
  • "Push your hands into the water."
  • "I am the Virgin of the poor. "
  • "This spring is reserved for all the nations - to relieve the sick."
  • "I shall pray for you. Au Revoir."
  • "I come to relieve suffering."
  • "Believe in me, I will believe in you. Pray much. Au Revoir."
  • "My dear child, pray much. Au Revoir."
  • "I am the Mother of the Saviour, Mother of God, Pray much. Adieu."

8. Place the Apparition on a Map

Children can locate Belgium on both a map and a globe.  Then, the following excerpt can be read from Pierced Hearts, and children can draw a picture-map to go along with it.

Belgium is a small country in northern Europe between France and Germany. Banneux Notre-Dame is a poor farm village built around its church. It doesn't appear on maps. It is dependent on the people of Louveigne and is 25 km from Liege, the capital of the province. The town is found in a small plateau in the Belgian Ardennes at an altitude of 325 m. It is surrounded by beautiful valleys of Ambleve, Vesdre, and Ho√ęgne. On the highway between Louveigne and Pepinster, a kilometer from the church, the small Beco house can be found on the left with a small garden in the front. The area is humid and swampy, which is why it is called "La Fagne", which means 'mud'. On the other side of the highway, the great Eifel forests begin.
9. Discuss the Time Period of the Apparition(and Learn Fun Food Facts Related to Belgium)

Our Lady of Banneux appeared in 1933.  What was happening in the world at that time? What had happened previously and what was about to happen?  

Discuss this, and, if you have a Book of Centuries or Timeline Notebook, put the Apparition into it.

Also, consider that Our Lady appeared at Fatima during World War I and then, appeared at Banneux several years before World War II. A Fatima, she requested people pray the Rosary for peace in the world ad emphasized  devotion to her Immaculate Heart.  At Banneux, she spoke of healing. 

For fun, perhaps discuss the history of waffles, particularly Belgian waffles and/or if french fries really come from France.  You might even virtually explore the Fries Museum and make some homemade fries.

10. Distinguish Nuances in Language

Note that Our Lady said:

  • "I shall pray for you. Au Revoir."
  • "Believe in me, I will believe in you. Pray much. Au Revoir."
  • "My dear child, pray much. Au Revoir."
  • "I am the Mother of the Saviour, Mother of God, Pray much. Adieu."

Discuss the difference in the meaning of the French words Au Revoir and Adieu. Basically Adieu is not used much in today's vernacular, but is used when you are leaving someone for a long time and are unsure when you might see her or him again, and Au Revoir is used when you leave someone that you might probably see again and soon.

Also related to language (and history) is the fact that Belgium has three official languages: Dutch (spoken in the north), French (spoken in the south), and German (spoken in the east).  Many people also speak English.  It could be fun to look up words in these different languages and to compare them.

11. Review or Learn Catechism

Mariette's family was Catholic, but did not practice their faith diligently.  In fact, before seeing the apparition of Mary, Mariette had stopped practicing her catechism. 

After seeing Our Lady of Banneux, however, Mariette returned to Catechism class.  Now might be a good time to review or learn more of the Catechism.

12.  Focus on Virtues

At Banneux, calling herself the "Virgin of the Poor", Our Lady promised to intercede for the poor, the sick, and the suffering. Undoubtedly, God wants to use us to do similarly.  Reflect, What might we do today to help someone who is poor, sick, or suffering?  Then, do it!

13. Pray for Conversion

As explained at
Pierced Hearts:

After the first apparition, (Mariette) converted. Her father, who had been a powerful force of apathy and rebellion against the Church, experienced a change of heart. Not even in Lourdes, Fatima, or Beauraing did such conversions happen so quickly. The parents of Bernadette Soubirous and Lucia dos Santos did not accept the apparitions until long after they had ended. Nevertheless, here in Banneux, the power of Our Lady was felt and obeyed immediately.
Now might be a good time to pray for deeper conversion of ourselves and those around us, as well as for the whole world.

14. Solve Math Problems

The timelines of Banneux on Our Lady's Promise and The Miracle Hunter could be used for oral or written word problems.

If you have an hour to spare, you can listen to an audio of 
I am the Virgin of the Poor - the Story of Our Lady of Banneux.  (I hope to do this during a quiet handiwork time or at bedtime.)

I hope you found some inspiration in the ideas here and that your enjoy your Our Lady of Banneux day.

If you have other ideas or know of great for celebrating this day, please share them with me in a comment or on our Facebook page.  Thanks!

Our Lady of Banneux, pray for us.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Did You Miss Any of Our Top 10 Faith Posts of 2018?

Happy 2019!  If you're planning ahead for ways to celebrate faith as a family this year, perhaps scrolling through our Top 10 Faith Posts from 2018 will inspire you.

Again this year, as we tallied our Top 20 most popular posts of the year, we noticed that there was an almost 50-50 split between faith-related posts review /giveaways ones.  Today, then, we share our Top 10 Faith Posts from 2018 so that if you've forgotten an old favorite, your memory might be jogged, and, if you missed a popular post, you might discover it now.

I pray that as you scroll through our Top 10 Faith Posts, you will find inspiration to continue to live and grow in faith with your family in 2019.  


The ideas I put together for a Holy Spirit-themed co-op class I was teaching became a blog post, which became a help to many, it seems.

I love sharing lesson ideas, inspiration, and plans, especially about our Catholic faith.  If you're ever looking for any specific ones, just contact me through a comment here, or, better yet, through our Facebook page, and I'd be happy to see if I can help!


training happy hearts
4 Things to Take Home from a Retreat

We were surprised to see that the quick reflection post I wrote after experiencing a wonderful retreat with Catholics Online was popular with others. We're not surprised, though, that the retreat was such a blessing.

Catholics Online is a helpful online resource and the speakers I enjoyed spending time with at the retreat are truly inspired people of faith.  If you're looking for great Catholic inspiration, content, products, and more, check out the Catholics Online directory.


Get a FREE Printable Holy Eucharistic Game Set!

Whether you have someone preparing for First Holy Communion or are simply studying the Eucharist, you might appreciate the free printable game set we created, used, and shared.

You might also enjoy our other First Holy Communion and game posts.


Enjoy FREE PRINTABLES for 2 Easter Nature Walks!

Nature study and themed-nature hunts are always a favorite for me, and it looks like others liked our free printable Stations of the Resurrection (or Via Lucis, Stations of Light, or The Way of Light) printables, too.  So glad!

You might enjoy our other free printables and Easter posts, too.


How We Plan Our Annual All Saints Day Party

All Saints Day is one of our favorite feast days to celebrate with friends, and we've become rather proficient at planning our annual local Catholic homeschoolers party.

So any people have asked how we do it, I finally wrote up a post to explain.  We also have loads of other All Saints Day posts filled with games and ideas.


3 Jars Can Help Your Children Remember to Pray, Fast, and Give

Our Pray, Fast, and Give jars have been a staple of our Lent and Easter celebrations for years, proving simple and meaningful.

We've also shared plenty of other Lenten traditions, ideas, and resources, so be sure to take a peek.


3 Ways to Celebrate the Assumption of Mary

The Assumption is always such a lovely Marian feast day to celebrate.  Find inspiration for celebrating it with your family and friends. 

You might also enjoy our other
 Mama Mary posts, too!


Get Ideas for 8 Marian Apparition Peg Doll Sets

Our Marian Apparition peg dolls have been finding regular spots on our liturgical shelf and at feast day celebrations.

We loved taking part in the swap, receiving beautiful dolls, and sharing oodles of related resources with you.

If you'd like to see our other peg doll collections, find them here


We love free printables, and, obviously, others do, too.

Our second most popular faith post of 2018 proves that. 

So, if you didn't catch this post, click on through and print out a copy of our nature hunt printable to use during Lent this year.  While you're at it, feel free to check out all our Lent posts.

We were surprised to find that so many people were interested in the prayer, links, and ideas that we shared along with a sneak peak at our September Liturgical Shelf. We are also grateful that, in seeing this was our top new faith post of 2018, we were reminded to get back to our initiative of creating liturgical shelf displays to help us recall each monthly dedication.

For, during Advent and the beginning of the Christmas season, we veered away from this initiative, choosing to display one of our nativity sets on our shelf instead of dedicating the space to the Immaculate Conception, but, now, this month, we may add something to remind us of the monthly dedication of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Creating these simple displays is a simple way for our family to stay focused on the liturgical year.  Perhaps you'd like to do similarly.

We'd love to hear which posts YOU liked best in 2018 and what you'd like to see us focus on sharing more of in 2018.  For, as always, there are always more ideas and things happening than we have time to write about, and we'd love to tailor what we share to what you'd like to read.  So, please don't be shy with requests and suggestions.  

May God bless you a your 2019 unfolds.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy Christmas season!

We had a lovely Christmas and pray you did, too.

Now, on this sixth day of Christmas, I had hoped to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family with food and family time much like we did last year.

Instead, I've been sequestered in my bedroom in an effort to keep a surprise bug that hit me last night from infecting anyone else in our home while I (hopefully) make a quick recovery from it.

So, time together?  Nope.

Feasting together?  Not happening.

Yet, being grateful for the healthy, whole-food smoothies and lemon-ginger tea that my daughter and husband have kindly been bringing me?  Most certainly!

Delighted by my youngest popping in to give me a quick, hearty hug and sweet smile because he is missing me and, later, being silly with a stealth belly crawl to come in to check on me again?  Absolutely!

Giving thanks that my family is enjoying a simple, slow day at home after my husband got everyone out to Mass?  You bet! 

There is testimony in my husband and kids stepping in to prep meals... 

in the aroma of my daughter's baking experiments... 

in the clap of the front door as children go in and out play and to care for our chickens... 

in the cold and soothing hand a child placed on my head when checking on me after coming in... 

in the rhythm of a the sewing machine as a child teaches herself to sew... 

in the groans and cheers of my husband and boys as they watch their favorite football team... 

in the boisterous moments, the purposeful moments, and the quiet moments of my family living life.

Caring. Creativity. Kindness. Love. Relationship.

All are present.

All are blessings.

Today, I give thanks, once again, for my family, and pray that all families model themselves after the love and faith of the Holy Family.

I marvel at the blessing and the responsibility given to my husband and me in our three children, and I pray for the strength and grace to parent them well.

I also pray the Holy Family Prayer as found on at Missionaries of the Holy Family:

JESUS, Son of God and Son of Mary, bless our family. Graciously inspire in us the unity, peace, and mutual love that you found in your own family in the little town of Nazareth. 
MARY, Mother of Jesus and Our Mother, nourish our family with your faith and your love. Keep us close to your Son, Jesus, in all our sorrows and joys. 
JOSEPH, Foster-father to Jesus, guardian and spouse of Mary, keep our family safe from harm. Help us in all times of discouragement or anxiety. 
HOLY FAMILY OF NAZARETH, make our family one with you. Help us to be instruments of peace. Grant that love, strengthened by grace, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass. May we always have God at the center of our hearts and homes until we are all one family, happy and at peace in our true home with you. Amen.
I pray for your family, too.  On this Feast of the Holy Family, may all families - large or small, together or apart - live with peace, love, and faith, strengthened by grace.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Not Ready? It's Okay. Jesus Comes Anyway!

If you, too, are finding yourself woefully behind where you'd hoped to be closing out this third week of Advent, may you be able to pause in a quiet moment to remember what really matters, as I did this morning, and have written about in poetic form here.

'Tis three days until Christmas.
We don't have a tree!
Someone was sick on Guadete Sunday.  

That someone was me.

A belly bug hit

And threw Advent prep askew,
Leaving us now
With far too much to do.

So many traditions never happened.
So many preparations are left undone.
And the house? Disaster in every room.
Seriously, each and every one. 

So, what shall we do? Shall we make a huge final push?
Nope.  For if we did,
My brain would be utter mush.

With task list in hand,

And "let's do this" on my lips,
I'd have us running so crazy...
No, we just must come to grips.

It's okay if this year is different,
If many things are amiss.
Because one thing is just right
And that one thing is this:

Jesus comes anyway.
He comes in His time.
To bless us with His presence -
So joy-filled and sublime.

He made a mere manger wondrous.
He turned despair to hope.
He transformed sinners,

Lost souls, and misanthropes.

He came to us humbly

as a baby born in a stable.
And He comes daily through grace

To those who are able

To simply say, "Yes.
Let His will be done"
Today and every day until

Once again to earth He comes. 

So decorations, traditions,
gifts, cleaning, and baking,

All the things we typically do
To prepare for merry making,

All we usually partake in
As we wait in joyful anticipation
Truly, they can be set aside
For there still is jubilation:

A Savior was born.
Let. that. sink. in.
Joy comes not from tasks completed.
It comes from Him.

Wherever you are at this moment, may your Christmas be filled with joy!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sick on Guadete Sunday

Guadete Sunday.  The Sunday of joy, bambinelli blessings, rejoicing... or, in our case, sickness bringing us to a halt.

Yes, this year, God blessed my family (we pray) with not being sick on Christmas, by, instead, gifting me a rather intense, but - praise God - relatively short-lived norovirus on the third Sunday of Advent as a reminder to slow down, give thanks, and spend time at home. For there are always reminders, opportunities, and blessings, right? Even in sickness.

Now, having had plenty of time to lay around feeling physically awful, I am recognizing how my time being sick perhaps, has better prepared me spiritually for Christmas than a weekend of attending traditions and tasks might have done.

For as I dealt with sickness, I recalled that the first Christmas very likely was not the picture of warm glowing happiness and perfection that we so often picture it as on greeting cards, but, rather, it was most likely one of radiant joy brought by grace amidst very human mess and challenge.

I mean, Joseph and Mary traveled a long way. There was no room for them in the inn. Mary had Baby Jesus in a stable, with a manger for a bed. 

These were not what we humans would normally consider ideal conditions.

And yet they were.

They were the ideal conditions for God's plan for salvation history to unfold. 
The ideal - and unexpected - way for prophesies to be fulfilled and promises to be kept. 
Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, and so many more were amidst the muck and mayhem of life as it was, yet they were also basking in grace.


They said, "yes" to God's promptings. They surrendered themselves to His will. They allowed love to overcome everything else, and, in doing so, were able to see the face of God in His human form.

Today, as I witness my husband caring for our children while I am sick, smile as my daughter checks in on me and makes food for the rest of the family, gladly accept hugs and encouragement from my youngest, and know my oldest is doing his best to keep things quiet and calm around here, I am filled with gratitude. 

I see each person in my home choosing love as we look toward the celebration of Christ's coming.

It is a beautiful thing.

Wherever you are at this Guadete Sunday - prepared or plodding along, joyful or just getting by - may you be able to pause and look around to see grace unfolding about you.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

8 Picture Books to Inspire Advent Service and Traditions

Happy second week of Advent!

If you enjoy seasonal picture books as much as we do, please enjoy coming along on a look back of our first week of Works of Mercy Wise Men adventures from the first week of Advent.

As is our tradition here, we've been journeying along through Advent with our Works of Mercy Wisemen getting into picture books and reminding us each day of ways we might prepare our hearts and homes for Jesus, sometimes through choosing Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy to act upon and sometimes by living our own family traditions. 

{Disclosure: Some links which follow are affiliate ones.  Should you click through them to make any purchase, we may receive compensation at no extra cost to you.}

On the first day of Advent, our Wise Men sat atop our copy of  If He Had not Come.  They had some purple markers and papers with them there at our Happy New Liturgical year breakfast table. Thus, we decided that they were hinting that we might each reflect upon our own shortcomings, think of ways we might improve ourselves in the new liturgical year, and write a commitment down.  So, we did!

On the second day of Advent, our Wise Men were rifling through our box of Jesse Tree ornaments and looking at a page iKristoph and the First Christmas Tree

We decided that they were reminding us that, due to snafus the day before, we had never picked out a branch in the woods to set up as our Jesse Tree and, therefore, had not been hanging our ornaments and praying for those that made them for us.  So, after lessons and work, we made time to go find a branch just before dark.

On the third and fourth days of Advent, some crazy life happenings took over and an overnight at Grammy and Grampy's happened, so our Wise Men opted to get into our keys instead of a book, reminding us to pray for the living and the dead as we took care of commitments and quelled the rising chaos of life.

On the fifth day of Advent, it was St. Nicholas' feast day, and the children awoke to two new books and a CD set for our home library along with some small treats in their shoes.

Excited by the new books, our Wise Men decided to make up for missing the third and fourth days of Advent, and, so,split up to draw our attention to three different things.

One brought the star we always put above one of our nativity sets right up to our new copy of The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, a favorite book we used to take out of the library every year and now happily own.

My children quickly decided that Wise Man was hinting that we should make time to unwrap each of our nativity sets and to put pieces of them up around the house as a way to prepare our home for Christmas.

Another Wise Man held a Jesse Tree ornament and was looking at a copy of Jesse Tree, another book we have taken out of the library for years and now own a copy of.  

We decided this Wise Man was reminding us that we needed to catch up on reading Scripture, putting up Jesse Tree ornaments, and praying for those who made them.  So, we did.

We also went through all the Advent Chain strips we've taken down so far this Advent and put hung the ones we have acted upon on our Jesse Tree while putting the couple that we have yet to accomplish on our table as a reminder.

The final Wise Man sat atop a pile of Saint Nicholas books, including The Legend of Saint Nicholas, a different The Legend of Saint Nicholas, and Saint Nicholas.

He was surrounded by oranges, cheese, bread, paper, and scissors, so my children immediately knew that we were to make paper snowflakes and a basket to secretly gift a neighbor as have every St. Nicholas day since the year we organized a St. Nicholas playdate where we introduced this tradition.

On the sixth day of Advent, I neglected to take a picture of our Wise Men vignette. However, since the Wise Men were standing atop a copy of The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood and lugging an empty canvas shopping bag, my children decided this meant we were supposed to find clothing, shoes, or other items we no longer need to pass along to someone who could use them. 

 So, we set a timer for fifteen minutes and filled the bag as quickly as we could. Then, we immediately took a photo of what was inside the bag and posted it in several groups online to see if anyone wanted any or all of the things we'd collected.

On the seventh day of Advent, our Wise Men sat atop an image of the nativity from the beautiful The First Christmas book.  Because it was also our oldest's birthday, we knew the Wise Men were telling us to pray extra for him and to celebrate his birth.

And that brings us to today - the eighth day of Advent.

This morning the Wise Men sat among Giving Tree tags, gifts to give, and "Why We Give Gifts at Christmas" in A Child's Book of Christmas

The children knew it was the day we give gifts to our church's Giving Tree program for the children whose tags they'd picked off the tree the week before Advent.  They always enjoy doing this.

And, I always enjoy the pause we take (almost) daily during Advent to quiet ourselves for picture book read alouds, chatting, and deciding what Work of Mercy, virtue, or tradition we might act upon.

Our Works of Mercy Wise Men has become a beloved anchor of Advent for us as we revisit favorite picture books, read new ones, and spend time together preparing hearts and homes for Jesus.

If you'd like to read about our other Works of Mercy Wise Men ideas, please click through the images below to find some of our some past ideas.

May your second week of Advent be filled with service and special moments as you prepare yourself to encounter Jesus - past, present, and future - and rejoice that the Lord is near!


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