Sunday, November 25, 2018

How I Plan a Last Minute Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Saint Catherine Labouré Gathering

Whoops! Life got busy this month.

Here it is nearly November 26th. Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal's feast day is November 27th, and Saint Catherine Labouré's is November 28th. Yet, I am just getting some time to plan our local Catholic homeschool group's monthly feast day gathering. 

As I do, I thought I'd share my ideas with you in case, you, like me, are a last-minute mom.

Okay, here goes:

The three ingredients we like to focus on during feast day celebrations are faith, food, and fellowship.

Leaving Fellowship to the Holy Spirit

Matthew 18:20 has long since become my guide for fellowship when it comes to our group's feast day gatherings.

"...where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them."

History has proven to me that whether only two families can gather, or five, or ten, or more, God is with us. 

In fact, it always seems that when our numbers are small it is because the Spirit is guiding those of us in attendance to the fact that someone needs an extra ear or bit of encouragement, and, when numbers are large, fruit becomes apparent, too.

So, planning for fellowship was easy for our upcoming gathering. I simply asked which mom in our group would like to host, then, based on her schedule and mine, picked a date and time before sending an invitation to everyone else.

She hosts. I facilitate.  Two families gather in His name and the Spirit guides whoever else can come.  Perfect!

No Fussing about Food

The time and location of our event determines what we will do for food - a small snack, a picnic, a luncheon, a tea, a dinner potluck...

This time, we are meeting between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m., so we are going for a substantial tea potluck, and, since I could find no traditional Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal or Saint Catherine Labouré recipes, nor any suggestion of what the sisters in St. Catherine's convent ate, we decided to go with an "anything connected" approach.

We have asked everyone who is coming to bring a dish or drink to share which is somehow connected to our St. Catherine Labouré, Our Lady, or he Miraculous Medal.  That could mean:

  • French foods like croissants with butter and jam, baguettes with cheese, eclairs, French onion soup, etc.
  • dishes symbolic of Our Lady, which typically include blue and white items
  • dishes that remind us of the symbolism in the Miraculous Medal, such as pasta "serpents" with a Mary statue on them (depicting Mary crushing a serpent beneath her feet), golden drinks or foods for the Blessed other appearing as radiant as a sunrise "in all her perfect beauty", anything circular with "rays" shooing out of them to "...symbolize graces (Mary) shed upon those who ask for them", anything white to remind us of purity and "O Mary, conceived without sin, (who) pray(s) for us who have recourse to (her)," anything in a cross or M shape, small food shaped like 12 stars (for the 12 stars symbolizing apostles, heart-shaped foods (for the Sacred heart of Jesus who died for us, and the immaculate Heart of Mary who intercedes for us)

Obviously, with these suggestions, our feast table could end up with just about anything on it in the way of food. (It is always fun to see how our potlucks take shape.) 

Along with the food, we'll set out some candlespeg dolls, and, of course, Miraculous Medals.

This is one doll from a Marian peg doll swap we did.  She may grace our table.

{Some links which follow may be affiliate links.}

One or more of these books will also be out on our feast day table:

Source: Amazon

our old used copy of the now out-of-print Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Coloring Book

Planning for Easy Faith-Connected Activities

As families arrive at our feast day celebrations, the parents usually begin to put together the feast day table while the children greet each other.  Some just like to chat; others like something to do with their hands. So we'll have out color sticks,watercolor pencils, paintbrushes and small cups of water along with a variety of coloring pages, such as:

These dolls from a Marian Apparition peg doll swap will likely decorate our feast table.

Then, after everyone has arrived and the feast day table has been prepared, we gather for a group chat and prayer time.  For Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Saint Catherine Labouré chat, I will open by showing my peg dolls and asking:

  • Who is St. Catherine Labouré?
  • What significant events happened to her?
  • What virtues did she model for us?
  • Does anyone know what the connection is between St. Catherine Labouré and the Blessed Mother?
  • Can anyone tell us a little about the Miraculous Medal?

Depending on what the children are able to tell me, I will either just add to their answers in order to fill in details about St. Catherine Labouré and the Miraculous Medal or I will read them a brief biography of St. Catherine Labouré from the Picture Book of Saints.  (I may use a powerpoint about St. Catherine from the Vincentian Marian Youth USA siteas a quick reference.)

Chat complete, I will lead the children in praying a prayer I found at Catechist:
God of All People, we pray to live your will in our lives like St. Catherine Laboure. Help us to love you and serve you as she did. May we be humble and not seek attention for ourselves—but always seek glory for you. We know that with you all things are possible. Amen.

After that, I may have the children act out a more detailed story of St. Catherine Labouré as told in a pdf from the Vincentian Marian Youth USA site.

I will also hand out Miraculous Medals to all of the children and have them inspect the medals as we note the symbolism on the front and back sides as found on the Divine Mercy site.

I'll give each child a length or ribbon, too, to make a makeshift necklace to hold their medals on, and, then, we may pray the Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal as found on Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

O Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, We dedicate and consecrate ourselves to you under the title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this Medal be for each one of us a sure sign of your affection for us and a constant reminder of our duties toward you. Ever while wearing it, may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son. O Most Powerful Virgin, Mother of Our Savior, keep us close to you every moment of our lives. Obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death; so that in union with you,we may enjoy the bliss of Heaven forever. Amen.

We may also talk about how St. Catherine Labouré lived her life humbly, quietly, and in service to others and said, "One must see God in everyone." In doing so, I will share a quote from Saint Catherine:

Whenever I go to the chapel, I put myself in the presence of our good Lord, and I say to him, ‘Lord I am here. Tell me what you would have me to do.’  If he gives me some task, I am content and I thank him.  If he gives me nothing, I still thank him since I do not deserve to receive anything more than that.  And then, I tell God everything that is in my heart.  I tell him about my pains and joys, and then I listen…  If you listen, God will also speak to you, for with the good Lord, you have to both speak and listen.  God always speaks to you when you approach him plainly and simply.

Then, I will ask:

  • How do you pray?
  • Doyou speak?
  • Do you listen?
  • How might God direct you in service to others this Advent?
  • Do you think He is giving you a task to do?

Finally, before closing our prayer and formal activity portion of our gathering to make time for free play, I will lead the children in a brief litany of sorts:

Leader:   St. Catherine, servant of the sick and elderly poor...
All:         Pray for us...
Leader:   ...intercede for us that we may grow in the virtue of humility.  St. Catherine, visionary of the Miraculous Medal...
All:         Pray for us.
Leader:   May we model after you, growing in devotion to Mary. St. Catherine, model of prayer and service...
All:         Pray for us...  
Leader:   that, like you, we may approach God plainly and simply.  Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal...
All:         Pray for us.  
Leader:  O Mary, conceived without in, pray for us who have recourse to you.  Amen.
A Couple of Extras

On the way to our homeschool group gathering, my family will likely listen to a favorite Altar Gang CD which mentions the Miraculous Medal and Catherine Laboure.

We may also watch an EWTN Vimeo before departure!

I would love to hear your ideas for celebrating Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Saint Catherine of Laboure with faith, food, and fellowship!

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and Saint Catherine Laboure, pray for us!


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