Sunday, July 27, 2014

Can You Enjoy Faith Formation through Food?

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Yesterday, we celebrated our third annual St. Anne Name Day "Tea".

As I looked back at photos from our first Name Day tea...

and our second...

...I realized that the spread of food and variety of activities we have included in our tradition of celebrating Name Days has become increasingly simplified.

That's okay by me.  No every celebration has to be an elaborate one.

What's even more okay by me is the fact that yesterday my children made fabulous symbolic connections with the simple spread of food I did manage to lay out for our al fresco St. Anne celebration.

Edible Symbolism

After praying over our "tea", the children dug in, of course, to their favorite treat first:  coconut milk ice cream!  As they did so, I asked them why they thought I might have chosen to include such a food on the menu (outside of the fact that they love it).

Why, because it is sweet, as is the love God has for us and the love he had for St. Anne.

And so our conversation unfolded, with the children's ideas and mine developing into symbolic connections between our teatime menu, St. Anne and our faith.

Highlights of that chat follow...

Why strawberries and zucchini?

Well, what is on the outside of strawberries?


These remind us of the gospel that we have heard about seed in rocky places, sandy soil and fertile soil.   St. Anne's heart was fertile ground.  Faith grew and she was blessed with St. Mary.  St. Mary, in turn, was blessed with Jesus.  And Jesus blesses us all.

Plus, those berries are red and St. Anne is traditionally depicted in red and green.

And why the zucchini?

Well, sure, it is green.  But does anyone know where we got it?

Nope.  Not from a store.  Rather, it was gifted to us through the generosity of a friend sharing her garden surplus.  So, in essence, we are being physically nourished by kindness that was extended to us by another, much like our Lord's kindness in offering himself nourishes us spiritually.

And do you know that zucchini grow like crazy at this time of year?  

It most certainly does.  So much so that people cannot wait to share their abundance sometimes.  

Isn't God's love like that?  Shouldn't we be thrilled when it grows in us and we can share our blessings with others, much like St. Anne shared the blessing of St. Mary with the world and St. Mary, in turn, shared the blessing of her son, Jesus, who was a gift from our Father...

And what about the GFCF crackers, hummus and guacamole?

Yes, the crackers and hummus are earth-colored and Jesus came to earth to be with us.... Yes, the guacamole is green, a traditional color of St. Anne.  Any other ideas?

I had wanted to get round crackers, but the store was out of them.  What do round crackers sometimes remind us of?  

The Eucharist!  That's right.  The Bread of... Life!

Yes, Jesus is the Bread of Life and St. Anne is his grandmother.

And what are raspberries?

Yes, red... and sweet...  and, absolutely:  They are a fruit!  To remind us of the Fruit if of the Spirit!  St. Anne was faithful and patient and...  so full of the Fruits of the Spirit!

And how about that spinach?  

Sure, it is baby spinach and St. Anne had baby Mary.  

It is also a super nutritious green.  Greens eaten every day can work to keep us healthy and to protect our bodies.

What keeps us healthy and protects us spiritually?  

The Eucharist!  Prayer!  Absolutely.  And St. Anne surely prayed, trusting God.  Her prayers were answered when she conceived Mary...

Thus it was that a simple spread of food prompted an extended chat about various aspects of our faith and of the story of St. Anne.

Our celebration this year was layered with Faith Formation through food... and a bit of fun thrown in, too.

Such as Nina decorating my space at the table with beads and fake flowers since, as she let me know, it was my special Name Day and I should have a special place.

Also, the children coloring after I read them the story of St. Anne from Story Library of the Saints. 

Plus, of course, there was prayer!

In fact, I admit that I got a bit teary eyed as I read a variety of prayers aloud while the children continued to color.  For some reason, the words below just overwhelmed me, in a good way:

Parents' Prayer to St. Anne
We call upon you, dear St. Anne, for help in bringing up our family in good and godly ways. Teach us to trust God our Father as we rear the precious heritage entrusted to us. May His will prevail in our lives and His providence defend us. These blessings we ask for all families in our neighborhood, our country, and our world. Amen 

The succinct phrases of the prayer encapsulated so much of what's been in my heart and in my head lately.  

St. Anne, pray for us!

Seeking More St. Anne Celebration Ideas?

Please find links and details about other options for plant-strong celebratory fare, handmade decorations and easy activities at Our First Annual St. Anne's Liturgical Tea.
Put together an easy St. Anne costume by switching out the blue cloth for a green one in a costume like Nina put together for an All Saints' Day party last year.
Or, don a do one up with two large tee shirts and a tablecloth, plus a girl dollie, like Nina wore to a party a couple years ago.

What other ideas do you have for celebrating St. Anne or enjoying faith formation through food?
Please feel free to share about them in comment here or on our Training Happy Hearts Facebook page.  If you leave a link to an idea, I will pin it on the Training Happy Hearts: A Call to Faith Formation in Young Children Pinterest board

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